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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Like stepping stones across the creek

13 June 2008

Dear Mark: On weekends, the casino where I play raises the table minimum to $25 on the craps table. What's a player to do to get some craps action on the weekend when you're only a $5 player, wanting to make only smart wagers like a pass line bet? Neil F.

There is a way, Neil, for us nickel players to fix things when the casino bumps up the table minimum on the weekends.

Here's what I'm asking you to do. Bet the pass line and don't pass at the same time. Huh? Yep, Ben, being a nickel pass line player, I want you to place $30 in lieu of $5 on the Pass line, and then bet $25 on the don't pass simultaneously. Your net bet becomes only $5.

Do the reverse if you are a don't player. Bet six red chips on the don't pass and five red chips on the pass. So once more, though you're betting $55, all you are risking is a grand total of $5.

You didn't think it was going to be that easy, did you Neil? You still have one itsy bitsy problem, and that's the 12 wielding its ugly face, on average, once every 36 rolls, making you lose on the pass line, and push on the don't.

Consequently, you could bet a buck as insurance every roll of the dice and get 30 to 1 if and when it appears, or, take a chance, yes gamble, that it doesn't roll during your gambling timeline. Either way, Neil, at least you're in action when the table limits are higher than your budget allows.

Dear Mark: Is there a mathematical formula for blackjack that you can project your losses in a casino? Ben S.

For the blackjack player, there is an expected loss formula that the casino uses (actually they call it a win formula) that I'll teach you to use to figure your projected losses to the house.

Take your average bet, the number of hours you are possibly going to play, the speed of the game and the casino's advantage over your play. This, in theory, gives your "expected" loss.

Say, for instance, you are betting $25 a hand for four hours (weekends, remember, higher table limits) averaging 100 hands per hour. Couple that with the 3% advantage the casino holds over your run-of-the-mill play, and you can predict, just as the casino does, your loss expectation of $300 ($25 x 4 hrs. x 100 hands x .03 = $300).

I did say predict, Ben, but not guarantee, simply because you won't automatically lose that exact amount. But the more you play, the closer your actual losses will get to your expected loss.

Dear Mark: I believed I found a sleeper full-pay (9/6) Bonus machine where I play, but when I told a friend what I found he thought there was no way our local Indian casino would allow it on the casino floor. Could this machine have slipped through a crack without management not knowing it? Brad T.

I'd bet dollars to Krispy Kremes against it, Brad. Without your even telling me the exact pay table, here's what I'm betting on.

Your typical full-pay 9/6 Jacks pay table should look like this: 250 for a royal flush, 50 for a straight flush, 25 for four-of-a-kind, nine for a full house, six for a flush, four for a straight, three for three-of-a-kind, two for two pair, and one for jacks or better, with one coin inserted.

Next time, Brad, look closely at all the payouts for all the hands. Bonus machines, which give you a bonus for various quads, typically pay only 1-to-1 on two pair, which wouldn't --depending on the pay table -- make it necessarily a bad machine, but it also wouldn't necessarily make it a full-pay, 9/6 Jacks or Better machine.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Luck is for the whimpering simp at the next table who plays to break even." --John Vorhaus, "Killer Poker"

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.