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Beneath the varnish of flashing lights and free cocktails, casinos stand on a bedrock of mathematics, engineered to slowly bleed their patrons of cash. For years mathematically inclined minds have sought to turn the tables by harnessing probability and game theory to outwit rigged systems. The classic method was to study a roulette wheel and see if some numbers came up more frequently than others, allowing the player to make bets that offered the best odds of winning. This type of analysis is now illegal, but it was commonplace in the past and many physicists have claimed to have come up with strategies that could beat any casino game.

Gambling is a popular pastime in most countries and there are numerous forms of gambling, including lotteries, horse racing and electronic gaming machines. In the United States, there are over 50 commercial casinos and a number of Native American casinos. In addition to slot machines and video poker, there are table games such as blackjack, craps, baccarat, and roulette, as well as sports betting and parlor games like billiards and darts.

Table games are any game where players sit around a table, usually designed specifically for the game in question, and interact directly with each other or a croupier who enables the game and manages payments. They are generally considered to require strategic thinking and decision-making skills, as well as luck. A notable subset of table games are those based on dice, such as backgammon.