Roulette is primarily a European game with a huge following on the Continent and in Great Britain. For centuries it has been the gambling game at places like Monte Carlo and at other elegant casinos. In the United States, though played in practically every legitimate gambling house of major size, its popularity has been nil.

This lack of interest in American roulette can easily be explained. The major reason is the American roulette wheel, which has, in addition to the thirty-six standard numbers (1-36) not one zero, as on the European wheel, but two.

Two zeros raise the house advantage to 5.26 percent on practically all bets but one, and that other bet, a five-number wager, gives the house better than a 7 percent edge over the player.

There may be other reasons for the unpopularity of the game in America. Americans are fascinated by two things-speed and numbers-and they get these in two very American games, craps and blackjack.

Certainly the game of craps as played in a casino is the fastest of all gambling games and the one in which the most money can be won in the shortest period of time.

And while there may be numbers all over the roulette layout, they are, in essence, dead numbers, whereas in blackjack every card number is crucial, ratios and point counts abound, and, above all, it is a game in which at times the player has an advantage over the casino.…

Craps is a game with many superstitions, but unlike slots and video poker, the beliefs surrounding craps don’t need to be debunked. Everyone knows they’re not logical. Yet everyone (including the casino crew) heeds them. That’s because there is a rhythm to the game and a feeling at a hot table that simply defies logic. Below are some of the more common superstitions.

A don’t bettor increases the chance of a seven ­out.
Cashing out will cause a shooter to seven-out.
Breaking the shooter’s rhythm will cause seven-out.
Mentioning seven or touching the shooter will cause a seven-out.
Dice hitting a person’s hand will cause a seven­ out.
Dice leaving the table will cause a seven-out, unless the shooter continues with the same dice.
An empty or recently opened table will be cold, and not good for a streak.
A female who is shooting craps for the first time will always pass, and will likely pass a number of times after that
Yes, they’re silly, and smart craps players don’t believe any of this malarkey. But it’s still not a good idea to touch the shooter while she’s on a roll, OK?…

Most versions of the game use it, but there are a few exceptions. The most notable is lowball, where the lowest hand wins. Seven-card stud and Texas hold ’em (or just “hold ’em”) use the standard ranking.

Poker’s unpredictable process of determining a winner is what separates genuine poker versions from the downpour of quasi-poker games that have flooded the market in the past few decades.

Video poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride, and all the other recent inventions have an absolute standard for winning and losing. You can read it on a pay table. Real poker has no such thing. No hand is an automatic winner (besides a royal flush), and no hand is an automatic loser.

In fact, the object of poker is not necessarily to have the best hand. The object is to win the biggest pot (the combined bets of all the players).

Having the best hand may allow you to do that, but it may not. Keep this in mind as we explain how the game works.

Obviously, the best hand wins in a showdown. That’s when two or more people reveal their hands to see who will win the pot. If two players have identical hands (two flushes, two straights, two full houses), the rank of the cards in each hand will determine the winner.…

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