10-cent roulette? Find it in these cheapest places to gamble

American Casino GuideWhile many gambling towns offer minimum table-game bets that are anything but minimal, WalletPop found a few cities that welcome you with open arms and low-end wagering.

Steve Bourie, author of the "2010 American Casino Guide," took WalletPop on a quick tour of the nation's bargain gaming dens, focusing on blackjack with a nod to craps and roulette.

Nevada still offers cheap blackjack, except on the Las Vegas Strip. Downtown Vegas has consistent $2 games with house rules that aren't too disadvantageous, Bourie said. (The fewer the decks and the fewer the alterations, such as allowing the dealer to hit when he holds an ace and a six, the better your chances.)

You can also get a $5 single deck game. Dollar craps and 10-cent roulette also help to compensate for downtown's less-glitzy vibe.

"There's a lot of value downtown," Bourie told WalletPop. "They're off the Strip. They have to do things to bring in people. They're older properties."

Collect match-play coupons to increase the value of your bets for free at participating casinos. Hotels begin at $25 a night, Bourie added, and slots will keep you playing with mere coins. Note that the further away you go from downtown, slot machine return rates increase up to around 95%.

Reno remains a tight-fisted gambler's haven. And we mean that in a positive sense. Three-dollar minimums are more the norm there, but that's still a pretty good deal.

Bourie warns of the 6-to-5 payoff odds for a blackjack as opposed to the traditional 3 to 2. If you're not trying to make a living at blackjack like a card counter does, you can live with it.

The Alamo Travel Center, a rest stop in Sparks, just outside of Reno, hosts some of the most player-friendly blackjack Bourie has heard of, reducing the house edge to a mere one-tenth of 1% if you play basic strategy. For the uninitiated, basic strategy is the statistically proven way of playing each hand. You can download it off the Internet and learn it in a day or two. To not do so can turn even a day trip into an expensive proposition.

Also in Nevada, on the Arizona border, Laughlin features select $3 tables. Most are $5, with a mix of casinos paying 6 to 5 for blackjack and those offering 3 to 2. Craps and roulette fit neatly into the bottom-range variety.

Deadwood, S.D. might be remote, but its slew of $2 blackjack tables with attractive conditions might lure you to the Black Hills for down-home bettin'. The Bullock Express hotel has $40 rooms and a few others are in the $50 range, Bourie said.

A tick up in price are Colorado's Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City. Some $3 tables are sprinkled among the $5 betting stations.

"The American Casino Guide" has been published since 1992. This year's version comes with $1,000 worth of coupons, according to the Web site.
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