For the vast majority of recreational gamblers, the sole objective is to walk away with more money than they came with.
To this end, casual players tend to stick with casino games that are widely known and easy to play. Classic games like blackjack and video poker certainly have their strategic foundations, but even if you’ve never played a hand in your life, you’d still stand a decent chance of doubling up on a single bet.
But the casino floor is filled with dozens of games, and when side bets and other supplementary gambles are factored in, players are confronted with countless ways to wager. Without a solid game plan going in, a casino rookie can easily stumble into a longshot bet that offers very poor odds on earning a return.
Games like the slots, keno, and most of the bets on the craps table are notorious for offering players a high house edge to overcome.
Unfortunately, these are among the most popular games in the room, simply because they don’t involve complicated strategies – or any skill at all, for that matter.
For whatever reason, recreational gamblers flock to games of chance that provide the lowest probability of success. Perhaps these games are dressed up with fancy mechanics, such as rolling the dice in craps, or maybe casino newbies just don’t know any better.
In any case, I’m here to help you avoid that fearful fate. Below you’ll find my list of the seven casino bets that give you the best chance to double your money.
For each of the wagers listed, you’ll find the house edge rate players are faced with over the long run. House edge is the preferred metric for measuring a casino game or wager from a theoretical standpoint.
In other words, if you were to bet $100 over and over again on a particular game, the house edge number reflects the theoretical amount that the house would hold.
But while house edge is perfect for assessing a casino game’s viability over the long run, it’s not as accurate in terms of a single bet. For the sake of this exercise, I’m assuming that my readers are hoping to double their money on a one-time wager.
In that case, it’s best to examine the bet’s overall probability of producing a winner – and in some cases, a tie (or a “push”).
As you’ll soon discover, a few bets known for their low house edge rates aren’t nearly as beatable when you’re shooting for a short-term score. Conversely, some bets that are notorious for higher house edges are actually quite fair when limited to a single wager.
Without further ado, check out the seven best casino bets for doubling your money before your next gambling excursion.
For the first entry, most readers will need to refresh their memory on what Pai Gow Poker is and how to play it.
To get you started on that front, I recommend this quick video tutorial on Pai Gow Poker which was produced by WinStar World Casino and Resort:
But for folks who may be at work, or otherwise unable to view the video, here’s a crash course on the basics. Pai Gow Poker is a table game pitting the player against the dealer, much like blackjack or Three Card Poker.
Please note that alternative forms of the game exist in which players compete against one another, but we’ll stick to the standard player-versus-dealer format for clarity.
You’ll begin by placing a basic ante bet, prompting the dealer to slide you seven cards from a randomly shuffled deck. From there, your job is to “set” these seven cards into two hands, one containing five cards and another containing two cards.
The five-card hand is known as the “high” hand, and it follows the basic rules for making poker hands (two pair is better than one pair, three of a kind is better than both, etc.).
As for the two-card hand, you can either form a pair or simply two high cards.
The catch is that your high hand must always rank higher than your low hand. Thus, with a deal like 7-7-A-K-Q-4-2, you’d want to set your high hand as 7-7-Q-4-2, while the low hand would use the A-K.
The dealer does the same with their own seven-card deal, and at showdown, both your high and low hands are compared to the dealer’s equivalent.
You can find an online Pai Gow Poker simulator and take a whirl to get the hang of things. And when you do, be sure to click the “House Way” button on occasion, which simply lets the dealer set your hand in the best possible combination. Brick-and-mortar casinos allow players to use the House Way, which makes setting hands far less complicated.
Now that you know the score, let’s dive into the details of what makes Pai Gow Poker one of the safest bets in the house.
As you can see, the house edge of 1.46% is rather reasonable, but remember, that’s a long-term measurement. For folks looking to double up on one big bet, the key numbers to look for are the win probability and push probability, which stand at 29.94% and 40.45%, respectively.
In other words, you’ll wind up a full winner on just under 30% of Pai Gow Poker hands – which isn’t very good at all. But crucially, you’ll wind up tied with the dealer just over 40% of the time, producing a push. This occurs when one of your hand components beats the dealer, but the other loses to their equivalent. In the event of a push, you simply get your ante bet back, and a new hand begins.
Thus, on any given hand of Pai Gow Poker, you’ll double your money roughly one-third of the time.
However, with the likelihood of a push added into the mix, your chances of either winning or losing nothing increase to 70.39%.
You won’t find many casino wagers which offer just a 29.61% of a pure loss, making Pai Gow Poker one of the safest tables to park yourself at while searching for a quick score.
No need for tutorials or simulators for the game of War, which so many of us grew up playing on rainy days.
The official version of War, appropriately named Casino War, plays out in almost identical fashion to the fun-filled game of your youth. You play against the dealer, and each of you is dealt a single random card from the deck. High card wins, and in the event of a tie, a “war” is declared, with three more cards dealt out and the high card once again winning it all.
That’s it for Casino War gameplay, which is why so many casino rookies wander their way to the tables. Nothing is easier than a simple game of high card, and as you might expect, the odds are essentially a coin flip in either direction.
Despite its status as a “novelty” game, the house edge of 2.88% offered by Casino War is actually friendlier than many table games.
In fact, you’re saving almost half in terms of long-run equity playing this game as opposed to double-zero roulette (5.26% house edge). But it’s all about win probability for this exercise, and at 50.27%, you’re actually favored – if only slightly – to beat the dealer on any given hand.
As you learn more about the gambling world, you’ll wind up realizing just how rare a positive expectation wager can be, so Casino War deserves credit for giving players a fighting chance.
And as it turns out, Casino War offers the highest win probability of any game on the list, making it the perfect place to double your chips in short order.
Most casino rookies think they know all about craps, which is Hollywood’s go-to game when filming a gambling scene.
But despite those hackneyed calls of “Gimme a seven, momma needs a new pair of shoes,” craps involves much more than rolling the dice and hoping for the best.
Take a good look at the betting layout used on a traditional craps table:
As you can see, players have dozens of wagers to choose from, ranging from the safe and snug Pass Line bet to exotic longshots like the “Hard Eight.”
Combine that complex betting board with a crowded table ringed by gambling fanatics, and many first-time players are put off by craps. The scene can be lively and loud, with dealers and floor staff feverishly tracking bets and calling out slang terms.
This leaves a lot of players on the outside looking in, as they want to take a shot but don’t want to interrupt the proceedings at hand.
Fortunately, all of those exotic wagers are completely optional. Indeed, a craps student can get by quite well when sticking to the game’s basic starting bets: the Pass Line and the Don’t Pass Line.
For a full introduction to the world of craps gameplay, check out another video tutorial, which we have included a link to.
To get the game started, all players must place an ante bet on either the Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line. Nine out of 10 players you meet will be backing the Pass Line, which pays out a direct winner when the “come out” roll (aka, the initial roll to start a game) lands on 7 or 11. Pass Line bets are losers when the come out roll lands on 2, 3, or 12, which regulars refer to as “crapping out.”
Betting on the Pass Line is considered the “right” way to play, as you’ll turn a winner along with most players present. And at 1.41 % house edge, the Pass Line offers a relatively player-friendly experience.
But while nine out 10 players are hoping for a Pass Line winner, you’ll inevitably encounter a lone wolf who has their money on the Don’t Pass Line. These “wrong way” bettors win when the come out roll lands on 2, 3, or 12, so they’ll be celebrating as the rest of the table loses their Pass Line bet. On the other hand, a Don’t Pass wager loses when the come out roll hits 7 or 11.
Oddly enough, the vastly less popular Don’t Pass bet offers a slightly better house edge of 1.36%.
In any case, however, you’ll need to place one of these two ante bets to get in the game. When you do, you’ll enjoy a healthy win probability of 49.29 % – providing a classic coin-flip gamble.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what happens when the come out roll lands on any other number but 2, 3, 7, 11, or 12. That’s a great question, as those rolls create the conditions for a real game of craps.
Once the come out roll lands on either 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, that number is established as the “point.” From there, Pass Line bettors are hoping to see the second roll (and all subsequent rolls until the game ends) land on the point number before landing on 7. Of course, Don’t Pass bettors are looking for a 7 to land before the point is hit for a second time.
Given the various combinations that a pair of rolled dice can produce, and the probabilities behind each result, the overall win probability on craps’ basic bet is just under 50%.
And finally, craps offers a secondary wager known as the “Odds” bet directly after the come out roll. This bet actually carries no house edge to speak of, making it a darling among intelligent gamblers, but for the sake of clarity, this double-up exercise was limited to Pass Line or Don’t Pass Line bets only.
Even so, you should definitely be “taking the odds” on your initial wagers to produce even higher payouts when the bones are rolling in your favor.
The classic conception of casino gambling is roulette, which challenges players to do nothing more than guess where a ball will land along a numbered/colored wheel.
And while most casual gamblers take their shot at the game’s holy grail – the 35-to-1 payout for correctly guessing an exact number – roulette offers several wagers that are much more reasonable. Remember, to score that 35-to-1 return, you’ll need to beat 1-in-36 odds against on a single-zero “European” style wheel, and 1-in-37 odds against on the “American” style double-zero variety.
Those are enormously long odds, and while the payout is quite sweet, you’ll be watching the wheel spin in vain more often than not.
Instead of chasing single-number bets, roulette players simply hoping to double their money are much better served by backing one of the game’s three even-money wagers.
Roulette wheels are famously colored red and black – aside from those pesky green zero spaces working for the house – and you’ll receive a 1-to-1 reward for landing on the correct color.
Additionally, the numbered spaces featuring 1 through 36 allow players to bet on whether the next number landed will be odd or even. Once again, this bet offers a 1-to-1 return on your wager.
Finally, with 36 numbered spaces on board, you can bet on either half of the set, with the 1-18 and 19-36 groupings each providing a 1-to-1 payout.
Because of the unique relationship between the probabilities and payouts of roulette bets, all of these wagers carry the same house edge percentage of 5.26% (on American double-zero wheels). In fact, every wager on the board except for one carries that same house edge rate, which is rather high when compared to the other games mentioned here.
But with a true win probability of 47.37% on the even-money bets, you’ll essentially be flipping a coin for a chance at doubling up.
Despite a bevy of scenes featuring superspy James Bond outdoing his foes at the baccarat table, this simple guessing game is actually one of the more boring casino gambles I’ve ever encountered.
Your job is simple enough: guess which one of two randomly dealt hands will reach a total closest to 9. These hands are called the “Player” and “Banker” hand, and both begin with two cards. Any 10 or face card serves as a 0, and any total that exceeds 10 drops the first digit to reveal the hand’s actual value. Finally, a complex system of rules known as the “tableau” is used to determine which, if any, of the two hands will draw a third card.
When it’s all said and done, winning your bet on either the Player or Banker hand produces an even-money payout (less a 5% commission, which I’ll ignore here for the sake of clarity).
As a baccarat player, all you need to do is guess which hand will wind up as the winner, which should offer a basic coin-flip scenario. You can also bet on the two hands finishing in a tie, but that longshot wager is one of the worst in the house, so it’s best to stick to the game’s two main bets.
Due to the rules requiring the Banker hand to “act” last when it comes to drawing a third card, the Banker bet (1.06% house edge) is actually slightly better than the Player alternative (1.24%).
You’ll wind up winning on the Banker bet 45.85% of the time, which is pretty decent, all things considered. But when you add in the 9.51% probability that the two hands will tie, resulting in a push and your bet being returned, your chances of losing the bet stand at just 44.64%.
In other words, you’ll have more than a 50% shot to either double up or keep your original bet in play.
Video poker has long been preferred by sharp players who pride themselves on strategic thinking. Armed with enough knowledge about a video poker variant, a skilled player can achieve house edge rates of under 0.50% on most games.
By far the most popular version of video poker, Jacks or Better is a universal game that provides the template for all other formats. Make sure to look for machines paying 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush, as this “9/6 full pay” game offers the best possible odds on Jacks or Better.
And as an added bonus, video poker payouts escalate after the base pay of 1 coin for one pair, so you’ll have a 45.46% shot to double your money at the very least. Make a higher hand than one pair, and you’ll wind up bringing home 2-to-1, 3-to-1, and even 800-to-1 payouts (for landing the elusive royal flush).
Most gambling beginners take their first shot at beating the house by playing blackjack, and for good reason.
This skill-based game operates according to basic strategy, giving good players plenty of room to maneuver and make profitable plays. The house edge of 0.40% is one of the lowest around, and on any given hand, you’ll have a 42.20% chance to double your dough.
Add in the 8.48% odds of a push, and you’ll only lose your bet 49.32% of the time.
It’s important to note that the odds of winning money are still against you when playing any of the bets listed on this page.
The house is ALWAYS expected to win in the long run. But if you want to have the best chance to double your money at the casino, these seven bets are well worth considering.
By combining a relatively low house edge with a high percentage chance to win, they’re significantly better than many of the alternatives.