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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Wrong bettor wants better odds

17 August 2004

Dear Mark,
What would my edge be if the (Bar 12) were omitted from don't pass and don't come wagers? Gary N.

In craps, before a point is established, most players typically have a pass line wager. However Gary, as his question suggests, bets the backside by being a "wrong" bettor and placing a wager on the don't pass line.

A don't pass wager is an even-money bet that the shooter will do one of the following: Roll a seven before the point number repeats itself, or crap-out on the come-out roll by rolling either a two or a three. Although a two, three and 12 loses for the pass-line player on the come-out roll, a 12 is only a tie for the don't pass bettor. Reason being, winning this bet instead of a push would give the don't-pass bettor a slight advantage over the casino.

Casinos, Gary, are not in the business of giving you an edge at anything, and if the Bar 12 were absent from the table layout, the game would then favor the player by 1.414%.

By the way, Gary, in some casinos, instead of the 12 being a tie for a don't-pass bettor, the two is. You will find the rules for which number is barred displayed in the area of the craps table marked "Don't Pass Bar" and "Don't Come Bar."

Dear Mark,
I find this one of the trickiest hands in blackjack: To double down, or not, when you have an 11 against an ace. Your opinion on this hand would be appreciated. Tom C.

To double or hit an 11 against an ace can cause disagreement even among many pros. I recommend playing this hand differently depending on the number of decks in play. With a multiple-deck game, you would just hit your 11 against an ace, whereas when playing single deck, you would double down. Reason being, you are more likely to get a decent card on a single deck game than one using multiple decks.

For instance, say you have a two-card 11, an eight and a three. In a single deck game, without considering depletion, there are 50 remaining cards, and 16 of them, or 32%, are 10-value cards that will give you a 21 on your double down. With an eight-deck game, there are 414 remaining cards, and 128 of them, or 30.9%, are the favorable 10-cards.

Of course, sometimes my logic fills the mailbag with disagreement, so if you have a differing opinion, please let me know what your take is on this hand and why.

Dear Mark,
In Jacks or Better video poker, let's say my initial cards dealt are a seven of hearts, an eight of diamonds, a jack of clubs, a queen of spades, and an ace of hearts? In the past, I have always kept all three face cards (the ace representing a face card). However, recently I was advised by an old-time VP player that I should discard the ace. Should I? Tyler T.

The counsel received, Tyler, was correct. Three face cards, especially with an ace, may look impressive when they appear on the screen, but when dealt as three picture cards of different suits, most experts will tell you to discard the ace if it is included in the three. The jack/queen offsuit is a higher valued hand for openers in video poker than a jack/queen/ace of differing suits.

Gambling quote of the week: "Nathan Detroit's crap game is apt to be anywhere, because it moves about every night." Damon Runyon, Blood Pressure (1929)

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.