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How Casinos Work


Keno and Other Games
A game of Texas Hold 'Em
A game of Texas Hold 'Em
Photo courtesy of Todd Klassy

Keno

Keno is essentially a lottery held in a casino. Players purchase a card and choose a series of numbers. The casino draws numbered balls at a scheduled time. If a player's numbers match those drawn, the player wins. Virtually every casino expert recommends staying away from keno -- the odds are stacked against the players even more heavily than in other games.

Baccarat

Baccarat is a card game often played in a separate room of the casino. It is characterized by minimum and maximum betting limits that are usually higher than other table games. Depending on how the players bet, the house edge can be as low as 0.6 percent, but averages around 1.25 percent. In fact, certain winnings are "taxed" by the casino at five percent to ensure they make money on the game.

As for the game itself, two hands are dealt, one representing the Banker, one representing the Player. The value of the hand is reduced to a single digit, and the higher hand wins.

Video Poker

Video poker machines are similar to slot machines in that the player can play alone, with no need for other players or a dealer -- all the action is controlled by a computer after the player inserts money. However, video poker does offer the player some chance to affect the outcome of the game with skill. In a typical draw poker version, the player sees five cards. He then chooses which of the cards to keep, and the computer replaces the others with new cards randomly "drawn" from the virtual deck. The payout is determined by the quality of poker hand that the player managed to assemble. Many machines are "Jacks-or-better" machines, meaning that a pair of Jacks is the lowest hand that pays any prize money. Better hands, such as a full house or a flush pay out even more, and the best possible hand, the royal flush, pays out the jackpot. This could be a progressive jackpot that grows the longer the machine goes in between royal flushes.

Poker

Poker is a bit different from other casino games in that the players play against each other, not the casino. The house edge comes in the form of a rake, a small percentage of each pot that the casino takes at the end of every hand. Alternately, the casino may charge poker players based on the amount of time they spend in the poker room.

[House edge stats source: Nestor]