Gamblers Who Beat The Odds

August 29th, 2018
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Do some gamblers beat the odds on a regular basis? The answer is of course they do.

Is it an easy process?

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. It depends on which game you are playing, the makeup of the casino, and even the casino itself. But the good news is it can happen.

Michael Shackleford is a young man who is known as the Wizard of Odds. He was given the nickname because of his ability to overcome the odds at various casino games.

Michael is a winner.

He earns a good living analyzing casino games. A resident of Las Vegas, NV., he is employed as an adjunct professor of casino mathematics at the University of Nevada.

He admits to launching his gambling career at age 11. He has been a consistent winner at blackjack, video poker and sports betting for the past 20 years.

Shackleford avoids losing by staying away from mindless games like slot machines and keno. The more complex a game of chance is, the easier it is to overcome the odds, he says. That is why he enjoys video poker.

Blackjack or 21 can be beaten if a player uses the basic strategy to shift the odds to his favor. The strategy has been developed over the years by such blackjack experts as Edward O. Thorp.

Here is the strategy in capsule form

  • If you have eight or under, take a hit regardless of what the dealer shows.
  • If you have a nine and the dealer shows three, four, five or six, go down for double. If the dealer is showing two or seven, hit.
  • If you have 10 and the dealer a card between two and nine, double down. If the dealer has a 10 or ace, hit.
  • If you have 11 and the dealer is showing two through 10, double down. If the dealer has an ace, hit.
  • If you have `1, hit when the dealer shows two, three or seven. Stand if the dealer shows four, five or six.
  • If you have 13 through 16 and the dealer has seven or higher, hit. If the dealer has two through six, stand. And always stand if you have 17 through 21.

Bill Zender... known as the ultimate gambler insider. He is a former dealer, professional card counter and casino floor manager. He says a good card counter can gain a 1.5 percent advantage over blackjack.

To beat the odds, Zender advises players to watch for sloppy dealers who have a habit of exposing their hole card.

He also likes roulette and notes that roulette wheels can become worn and biased so that certain numbers are repeated. Quite a few years ago a player named Joseph Jagger found such a wheel at the famed Monte Carlo Casino and won more than $400,000, equivalent to $7.8 million today.

Zender recommended against playing slot machines. If you must play the slots, he says, stay away from the penny slots since they give the casino a 15 to 20 percent advantage over the players. Instead play the $5 or higher slots and play them for the maximum.

Stay away from keno. Some casinos have a built-in advantage of up to 35 percent. He points out that nobody has ever hit 20 out of 20 spots in the history of keno because the odds against it happening are one in 3.5 quintillion.

Video poker gives the House a slim 0.46 advantage to expert players. Most players are not that skillful, so study up on the odds before you play.

In the late 1940s

Two college buddies at the University of Chicago took a break from their classes and rode their motorcycles to Las Vegas to try to win at roulette. Albert 'Al' Hibbs was a math student and Roy Wolford was studying to be a physician.

They began taking notes on the winning numbers on roulette wheels and discovered biases in a couple of machines. They played those machines and won enough money to buy a boat which they used to sail around the world.


became famous by teaming up with one of his professors to write a textbook, 'Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals.' After graduation, he joined NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he become the mission announcer -- the 'Voice of JPL.' He played a major role in the launch of Explorer 1, the first American satellite to orbit the earth six weeks after Russia launched Sputnik.

You can beat the odds. It takes work and practice, but it can happen. Good luck. Let the games begin.

“Michael is a winner.”

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