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How to Actually Win Big on Your Next Trip to Las Vegas

How to leave town a winner.

As the self-proclaimed “Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas offers visitors plenty of ways to win big. In recent years, the destination has been all about metaphoric jackpots connected to experiences: Witnessing the roar and rumble of Formula One in real life, celebrating the spectacle of the NFL’s Big Game, and cheering on the two-time WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces.

Still, at its core, Las Vegas is (and always has been) a gambling town, and the best ways to win literal jackpots are on the casino floor.

Of course, some games are better than others. Generally speaking, the best games for players are the ones with the lowest house edge. This is a mathematical advantage that a casino holds over players over time.

For the best statistical chance of winning, players should seek out games with the lowest edge.

By the numbers, the four games with the lowest edge are video poker (as low as 0.46%), blackjack (0.50%), baccarat (1.06%), and craps (1.41%). Slots can be a good option as well—in rare cases as low as 2%—depending on the machine and the payout percentage, which loosely translates into the amount of deposited money paid out on jackpots over time.

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The game with the worst house edge for the player is American (read: double-zero) Roulette, at 5.26%. Some Las Vegas casinos offer triple-zero American Roulette now; the house edge in that game is 7.69%.

Here’s a rundown of the best gambling options to win big in Las Vegas, as well as a look at how to minimize risk and maximize opportunity at each.

Video Poker

Video poker is like a slot machine, only more complicated.

In this game, players aim to make the best possible five-card hand according to traditional poker hand rankings. After being dealt a starting hand, players can exchange any number of cards for new ones, aiming to improve their hand. (They do this by selecting which cards to hold.) The final payout is determined by the final hand’s strength; stronger hands offer higher payouts.

There are dozens of video poker games with a multitude of different pay tables.

Many video poker machines have gimmicks, too: in some games, deuces are wild; in others, players only get paid with a pair of jacks or better.

Generally speaking, full-pay jacks-or-better games offer the lowest house edge (as low as 0.46%), especially if you wager the maximum number of credits each time and you know how to play with optimal strategy.

Depending on the pay tables, some Deuces Wild machines can return more than 100% of what players deposit over time.


The goal of blackjack is simple: to build a hand with a value of 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand without exceeding it.

Las Vegas casinos spread different iterations of this game; most of them vary by the number of decks in a shoe. The lowest edge—again, 0.50% with optimal strategy—comes in single-deck games that pay 3:2 odds on all blackjacks (for the novices, a blackjack occurs when you get an ace and a second card with a value of 10).

Many casinos try to manipulate the house edge by paying less (usually 6:5) on blackjacks and limiting other options, such as how many times players can split duplicate cards or how often players can double down. Both options require additional bets.

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Playing the game of baccarat (pronounced bah-ka-rah) is as simple as flipping a coin.

The game has two basic hands—player and banker—and gamblers can choose to back either side. Gamblers place bets on which hand will get closest to a total value of nine. If the total of one of the hands exceeds nine, the second digit of the sum is used as the hand’s value. That’s it.

Including a 5% commission that gamblers settle when they conclude their session, the house edge on banker bets is 1.06%, while the house edge on player bets is 1.24%. The game also offers the option of betting on a tie, but the edge for that wager is an astronomical 9.5%.

Over the years, casinos have added different versions of baccarat and different side bets (including one that enables gamblers to wager on a dealer or player pair).


The loudest table in any casino is always the craps table, where players roll two dice and can wager on a variety of different outcomes.

The basic premise of the game involves betting on whether the shooter will roll a specific number (dubbed the “point”) before they roll a seven. The game offers numerous betting options, including simple bets such as “pass” or “don’t pass,” as well as more complex bets such as “place” and “come.”

The two wagers with the lowest house edge are the pass line (1.41%) before the shooter has established a point and a place bet on the six or eight (at 1.52%). Pass line bets pay 1:1, and bets on six and eight payouts at 7:6. (If you do the math, six and eight are statistically the most likely numbers behind seven).


Wins of a Different Kind

We could spend our time talking about other games with a low house edge—after slots; there’s European (single-zero) Roulette with a 2.70% house edge, Sic Bo with a 2.78% house edge, and Caribbean Stud with a 5.22% house edge. Of course, there’s another way to win big in the casinos of Las Vegas, especially if you consider earning free stuff winning: Players’ cards.

These cards are the foundations of marketing programs designed to capture player demographic information so the casino resort can send advertisements and promotions to these players down the road. In a sense, they are the backbone of Las Vegas customer service.

By joining a casino’s players’ card program, you enable the casino to track your “spend,” or how much you’re wagering at the table. Most casinos offer comps based on this number.

Depending on the casino, these comps can comprise everything from free meals and free stays to swag or cash equivalent to wager in the future. In some cases, certain casinos will offer giveaways to players’ card members—local-friendly casinos usually plan an entire marketing campaign around a waffle iron or luggage set for players’ club members.

While the experience of “winning” these freebies may not be an adequate substitute for winning actual dollars, it certainly is better than walking away with nothing at all. In Las Vegas, Entertainment Capital of the World, jackpots come in many forms. All you have to do is win them.