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19 August 2016
By Mark Pilarski
Dear Mark: When it comes to making the best bet in a casino, your advice has been playing perfect strategy at either blackjack or video poker. Here’s my issue with that: I am not interested in learning a new skill in any game that I will probably play once a month, for only four hours at best. But I also don’t want to make stupid bets that have a high house edge. So, what is your recommendation for either a game or wager where I don’t have to use my wits and still get a fair shake against the house? Cliff W.
Fortunately, Cliff, the good news there are alternative wagers so that you are not just limited to perfect play at blackjack or video poker when it comes to getting a “fair shake against the house.”
The best bet in the entire casino where you don’t have to use your noggin is to walk up to a craps table and make a bet on the pass line, and double odds underneath. It gets even better if you can get even higher multiple odds.
For instance, if you have a $5 pass line bet and the point is 4, if you win, your pass line bet is paid at even money (1:1), bringing you $5 in winnings. Your pass line bet alone has a house edge of 1.4%. The pass line wager alone is somewhat competitive against perfect play at video poker or blackjack, but NOT equal to or better than. So, Cliff, let’s enhance the wager to give it equal footing. By taking double odds ($10), you are paid at true odds (2:1) on that portion of the bet, bringing you $20 on the win.
The house edge is tied to the odds of the bet. At double odds the house edge drops to 0.6%, 10x odds to 0.2% and 100x odds, all the way down to 0.02%.
Bellying up to a crap table and joining the euphoria of this fast-paced game need not be intimidating, Cliff, as long as you stick to a simplified strategy of betting the pass line and taking odds.
Also, Cliff, there are two bets on a baccarat game that offer a somewhat higher edge, and again, with no need to use your gray matter; especially since you don’t even have to know the rules as the hitting sequence is predetermined. The house advantage is either 1.17% when betting the bank hand or 1.36% with a player hand wager.
Dear Mark: Are dealers allowed to give you advice with your hand while you’re playing blackjack? Jack K.
It pretty much depends, Jack, on where you are playing.
All casinos have their own internal rules and regulations. Where I either pitched cards or managed, it was either forbidden, frowned upon or ignored, or they didn’t give a damn, just as long as when you peeked under your ace you didn’t advance advice to the player. As to where you play, Jack, all you can do is ask to see if it is allowed.
And as for trusting any advice you get from the dealer, well, that’s another story.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “I have seen a pregnant woman stand at a 21 game, oblivious to labor pains, until we thought we were going to become midwives, and leave only when we summoned an ambulance.” - Harold S. Smith Sr., I Want to Quit Winners (1961)
12 August 2016Dear Mark: On a multi-line/multi-coin video slot machine, how many coins do you recommend per line? Also, on a slot machine where you can push a button to stop the reels when I do decide to stop them, does it make any difference as to my chances of winning? Susan L. On multi-line/multi-coin slots, I would recommend playing one coin per line. ... (read more)
5 August 2016Dear Mark: Over the years I have been playing slots less and less. Now I just play in an occasional slot tournament that our local casino offers. I do find these enjoyable. Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my chances of winning in these tournaments? Mary L. A good number of casinos offer slot tournaments for their patrons. ... (read more)
1 August 2016Dear Mark: Are casinos required by law to inform the customer what the slot return percentages are for their slot machines? Mary Ellen P. Because slot machines hold some of the highest percentage returns for the casino, yes, Mary Ellen, consumers should be granted those numbers so they can shop for value by comparing percentage returns. ... (read more)