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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

March 10, 2006

Taking Away the Edge

by Luckbox

Gambling comes down to one sometimes undefinable element: The Edge.

Whenever you pull money out of your pocket and risk it in a gambling enterprise of any kind, determining whether it's a good bet or a bad bet comes down to the edge.

For example, walk into a casino and every table game and slot machine has a built in house edge. None of the bets you can make are "good bets." No matter what, in the long run, the casino wins and you lose. That is a fact. There is no way to work around that.

Place a bet on the roulette wheel and face a house edge so large you might as well burn your money. Now that doesn't mean that some bets aren't better than others. Taking max odds while betting wrong at the Craps table is a significantly better bet than playing the bonus bet at the Three Card Poker table. In the long run, you'll still lose, but the chance of you losing that single bet is much less at the Craps table.

So where should we bet?

The Poker Table

If you're reading this blog, you know this already. The beauty of casino poker is that the edge you have is based on your skill relative to the rest of the players at your table. In fact, sometimes all you need to be successful is just one player worse than you.

Of course, luck will alwys play a role. A bad stretch at the poker table is always a possibility. But if you pay correct poker and sit at a table with bad players, you will win in the long run.

The Track

The House does not set the line in a horse race. You set the line.

More specifically, the collective wagers of the hundreds or thousands of people betting a race set the line. The odds are based on the amount bet, nothing more. The track makes money every time you bet, not whether you win or lose.

With that in mind, you can create your own edge at the race track. All you have to be is smarter than most of the people betting on the same race as you. If the dumb money is all over the heavy favorite and the smart money is on the long shot, you have an edge, as long as you're part of the smart money.

When Boy Genius handicaps a race, he's not necessarily trying to determine who will win, he's trying to determine where he can find an overlay. If he handicaps a race and thinks a horse is a great bet at 4-1, but the final odds are 20-1, you better have a few bucks on that horse. If he thinks a horse is a great bet at 3-1 but it goes off at 6-5, the bet probably isn't worth it.

The Sports Book

This one is tricky. In this case, it is the house that sets the line, however, that line is constantly changing as more money is bet on a game. It's in the sports book's interest to have as many people lose as possible.

That's where the balancing act comes in. In the end, the line will likely fall somewhere in the middle of all money bet. Having about the same amount of people fall on each side of a bet protects the sportsbook from a huge payout.

This is where your skill comes into play. At the sports book, you lock in the line as soon as you make a bet. So if you do your homework, and can find a spectacular line, it pays to put your money down. Sometimes, the line in a game can move wildly from the time it's set to the time it closes.

Finding a good line gives you a better edge.

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