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Posted: 2006/02/22 by: Frank Scoblete. Slots, Online casino gambling articles.
In this series of articles, I have compiled a list of General Gambling Q&A; I am asked whenever I give talks about casino gambling. My list of 16 questions is in no particular order of importance, but these are the most-asked questions. All value judgments are mine.
So if I say this is the best thing, that is just my not-so-humble opinion.

1. Can a person really beat the casinos?
Yes, a person can really beat the casinos -- if that person plays the right games the right ways. Unfortunately, most people won’t be that person who beats the casinos because most people play games that give the casino the edge. You can -- with expert play -- beat the following games: blackjack, video poker, and regular poker. Here I am saying that you can actually beat the math of the game and get the edge.

2. How much of a [mathematical] edge can you get on these games?
A good card counter at blackjack playing games with good penetration and good rules can get between a 0.5 percent and a 1.5 percent edge. I’d guess most card counters are playing with a one percent edge. Good single-deck players are probably closer to the 1.5 percent, while good shoe players are probably closer to the 0.5 percent. A lot of the percentage advantage that a card counter has depends on how much money he can get on the table when the game favors him. On select full pay or more-than-full pay video poker machines you can probably play even with the house to realizing about a two percent edge on some machines. On regular poker, it is much harder to estimate an advantage but some people can and do make a living playing poker. A good dice controller can probably get a 5 percent to 10 percent edge when he shoots. That edge will be reduced if he plays the other shooters, which he must to do be allowed to shoot in the first place.

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3. What are your favorite games?
Craps first, blackjack second.

4. What are your least favorite games?
Any game that gives the casino a huge edge over the player is out. So the Big Wheel and Sic Bo are out. I also don’t enjoy playing Caribbean Stud -- too many frustrating hands and a pretty high house edge to boot. I am also not a video poker lover -- even though some of the best games in the casino are in video poker. I spend a tremendous amount of time in front of my computer screen so that when I go to a casino I want to play games where I get to see people in action with me.

5. Which games make the most money for the casinos?
The most overall money is made from slots, followed by blackjack, with craps and roulette right behind. More people play those games than any others. However, there is another way to figure what the casinos make and that is on a per game per $100 bet ratio. This is called the win rate. Here are the some real-world win rates for the various games in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. My guess is that other gambling jurisdictions such as Mississippi and Illinois are probably consistent with these results as well.
However, these jurisdictions do not release their figures based on individual games.
The percent means that for every $100 bet, the casino kept that percentage.
Remember that the casino win rate is really the player loss rate! Hold your breath.

Atlantic City � Las Vegas
Blackjack 12.4% 14.2%
Craps 14.5% 14.1%
Baccarat 12.5%
Let It Ride 16.3% 20.2%
Big Wheel n/a 45.2%
13.8% 15.6%
Pai Gow Poker 21.9% 21.9%
Roulette 25% 22.6%
Keno 26.7% 27.8%
Caribbean Stud 21.1% 25%

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6. How much money should you bring to a casino?
Always bring enough money to last you for the amount of time you want to play. As a rule of thumb for every session of blackjack have at least 40 times your bet. If you are a five-dollar bettor then have $200. For craps, always have 10 times your bet spread. If you are up on three numbers at the height of your betting, then have 10 times the amount of the three combined wagers. In roulette and all other games, use the blackjack formula. Bring enough money to play all the sessions you plan to play. So the five-dollar bettor in blackjack who wants to play six sessions in two days should bring $1,200. Never use a win -- or any leftover money -- from one session in another session. Put it away. This will almost guarantee that you will go home with some money.

7. What games have some of the highest win percentages for the players?
If you lay against the four or 10 in craps, you have 66 percent win ratio while laying the five or nine has a 60 percent win rate. Of course, you have to put up more money than the bet is worth, so you will still lose even with this win rate. In baccarat, the bank wins about 50.5 percent of the time if you exclude ties. So you will actually win more than half your bets if you play this proposition exclusively at baccarat. That’s why the casino takes a commission from the winning bets. The pass line at craps has a 49.3 percent player win ratio. Blackjack has around a 48 percent win rate if we exclude ties. The even-money bets at roulette (red/black, odd/even, high/low) have a 47.4 percent player win ratio.

8. What is the probability of the same number coming up four times in a row in roulette?
Once in 2,085,136 spins.

9. What are the odds of a Royal Flush in video poker?
Around 40,000 to one.

10. What are the odds of a royal flush in Caribbean Stud?
In a five-card hand, the odds are 649,739 to one to get a royal flush. These are the same odds for Let It Ride, as well.

11. What are the odds of getting a blackjack?
About 20 to one.

12. W hat skills do you need to play poker?
First, you have to realize that even though you are competing against other people, you not only have to overcome them but you have to overcome the house rake on the pots. Poker requires two skills: a killer instinct and knowledge, whether intuitive or actual, of the probabilities inherent in the hand you’re working on. Most people can learn the latter information with study and practice, but very few have the goods in the killer-instinct department. Like a fighter who is technically perfect but just can’t “pull the trigger” in a real fight, most poker players just don’t have the full array of talents needed to be pros or even winning players.

13. Is Spanish 21 a good game?
Yes. If you use the new Armada basic strategy, you can reduce the house edge to 0.82 percent. If you use the Armada ruse, you can get a slight “monetary” advantage over the house, as well. However, if you use the basic strategy for traditional blackjack, the game will bury you as you’ll face a house edge of three percent or more. People who play Spanish 21 say it is a much more exciting version of blackjack than the traditional one.

14. What percent of the time does the dealer qualify in Caribbean Stud?
The dealer will qualify approximately 56.32 percent of the time. That’s what makes the game so frustrating -- you have a good hand and the dealer doesn’t qualify!

15. I love Three-Card Poker. What is the best strategy?
Play queen high, six or better. Don’t make the Pairs Plus bet.

16. Do you think that casino gambling should be allowed everywhere?
Yes. The more competition between casinos, the better it is for the players. The only problem with the spread of gambling is with problem gamblers. But that’s always the way, isn’t it? The few who can’t handle something make it difficult for the rest of us to be able to enjoy that something.

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