/ / Advantage Play vs Cheating: What’s the Difference?

Advantage Play vs Cheating: What’s the Difference?

October 13, 2020 2820 0
Advantage Play vs Cheating: What’s the Difference?

Many online casino players find it tricky to tell advantage play from cheating. In case you’ve never heard of advantage play, it is an industry term coined by casino staff themselves for functional gambling systems. Cheating and advantage play can be both profitable for players. However, cheating is an illicit activity. Advantage play is similarly useful but doesn’t violate the law. While this explanation may seem mundane, take note that law significantly varies among jurisdictions. Therefore, an legal advantage play in one jurisdiction may be considered cheating in another.

Understanding Advantage Play

If you believe the house always wins, then you should familiarize yourself with advantage play. Advantage play is when you use your guile, knowledge, or intelligence to gain an advantage over your opponent/s. It is any system you can legally employ to try and stack the odds in your favor. A typical example of advantage play is card counting. Essentially, it is a clean way to win at cards, but most casinos frown at its use. You can get kicked out of casinos when caught doing it. 

Before you use advantage play as a winning strategy at casinos, you first have to know what existing legislation considers illegal. If the area that you’re playing in prohibits advantage play, then you’re technically cheating. Again, what is deemed legal in one jurisdiction may be banned in another and vice versa. 

What’s the Difference Between Advantage Play and Cheating in Gambling?

Advantage play abides by the rules of the house or the game, whereas cheating ignores them. Licensed and regulated casinos have nothing to gain from cheating their players. All they have to do is lure players to keep betting. Over time, the casino keeps part of those bets. So why risk the loss of license or criminal charges when all they have to do is alter the rules? On the other hand, players can’t change the rules nor introduce their own games. 

No matter how unfair and harsh game rules may seem, advantage players follow them. A universal house rule is that the player decides where to bet their money. The casino only decides which games to offer. In this meeting of choices, advantage players pick more winnable games. Instead of following the payoffs, they go after the statistical win percentages. Breaking the rules is a no-no for advantage players. Doing so sacrifice their real advantages. 

Card counting in blackjack is a classic advantage play strategy. Card counters are not cheating. They only pay attention to the cards being dealt to raise their wager sizes when the deck is favorable. It’s tough to consider card counting as cheating. You’re merely concentrating intently on the flow of the game and tracing data in your mind. 

Casinos treat advantage players differently from cheaters. When they catch one, they have different approaches to remove the edge. Casinos might start shuffling the deck after every hand or ask the advantage player to avoid playing blackjack. They will even tell advantage gamblers that they are welcome to play other games. The worst-case scenario is getting banned from the casino. 

Remember, casinos hate advantage gamblers, but they despise cheaters even more. In most jurisdictions where casino gambling is legal, cheating is a crime. Offenders can face a fine and even jail time. 

What Is Considered Cheating in a Casino?

Some players misconstrue card counting as cheating, assuming it is the reason casinos throw out card counters. But truth be told, card counting is a legal advantage play method. And it is not considered illegal by any means.

Advantage play is purely skill-based. Many advantage players consider gaming competition between them and the casino. They spend long hours training in a particular game and learning various methods that can give them a small long-term edge over casinos. Professionals explore alternative means to throw casinos and/or dealers off to avoid being detected. 

Meanwhile, casino cheating is pretty evident. You’ll see casino players who make no qualms about what they’re trying to achieve—win money at any cost. And they don’t care if that means they have to break laws and rules entirely. Cheating in casinos has been there ever since the launching of the first gaming establishment. Players are using sleight of hand, mechanical know-how, inside knowledge, and accomplices to gain an advantage. Find out more about the most popular casino cheats below:


Aside from bluffing, cheating at poker is all about peeking and sleight of hand. If the dealer is an accomplice to the scam, they will do a magical sleight of hand trick, allowing you to peek at the cards being dealt. Additionally, the dealer may give themselves extra cards then return them into the deck, so you get an advantage later.


Card counting is arguably the most popular way to cheat at blackjack. But it is not easy like in the movies. Firstly, you need to assign a value to each card. Next, you must keep a running count according to the value of the card dealt and compute the count per deck. After figuring out the count, you can change your wagers to make a profit. However, it’s almost impossible to cheat at an online casino blackjack game.

Slot Machine

Due to the lack of security and supervision around the machines, cheating the slot machine has become a popular method to beat a casino. The crudest way of cheating the slot machine is by using fake coins or counterfeit money. Ages ago, players would tie a coin to their finger, trip the sensor, then pull the string back.


Crafty roulette cheaters have come up with various tactics, including magnetic balls, top-hatting, sector targeting, and wheel gaffing. Magnetic balls are replacing traditional roulette ball with a magnetic one and placing a magnet behind the wheel to manipulate where the ball lands. Top-hatting is when a player distracts the dealer so another player can place the ball in a different pocket. In some instances, the dealer is part of the scheme and puts the ball themselves. 

On the other hand, sector targeting is done by leaning on the wheel or the table the wheel is on, causing it to bend to one side. Finally, wheel gaffing occurs when someone loosens a pocket or sprays it with adhesive, so it catches the ball more frequently. 

Electronic Gaming Machine

Electronic gaming machine (EGM) cheats usually involve a mixed understanding of electronics and the machines themselves. Criminals use electromagnetic pulses to shut off the machine’s electronics or a lock decoder to pick the lock on the machines, hence foiling its defenses. 

Online Gambling

Since online casino game software developers are well aware of programs and apps that help players cheat, they create their games with this in mind. As a result, it is more difficult to cheat in online gambling. It takes some IT genius hackers to cheat in an online casino.


While advantage play may not aid as much as it did previously, it’s a better long-term strategy than cheating. If you’re a first-time cheater, the casino may only boot you out. However, if you violate a ban on returning, authorities can arrest you for trespassing.

Meanwhile, casinos may only ban card counters and advantage players from playing blackjack or force them to play by special rules. In case a card counter makes a scene, the casino may file a disruptive behavior or trespassing complaint against them. 

At first, the consequences of advantage play and cheating are slightly similar. However, the more you cheat, the more likely you’ll face time in prison. And the more you utilize advantage play, the more likely you’ll deal with frequent shuffles. Perhaps the best way to get by is to stay within your gambling budget and enjoy the game.

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