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Bad blackjack players and royal flushes

1 May 2016

By John Grochowski
QUESTION: Playing blackjack, another player was really getting on my nerves. He kept hitting 12s. I know you guys say it’s right to hit 12 when the dealer shows a 2 or 3, but this guy hit 12 when the dealer had a 4. Not every time, just sometimes. I couldn’t believe it. Can’t players do anything to keep a guy from making hunch plays like that that wreck the game for others?

ANSWER: In blackjack, 12 vs. 4 is a close-call hand, one that card counters frequently hit. Even if you’re a non-counter, this one is so close that if there are more 10-value cards than 2s through 5s on the table for one hand, you’re slightly better off hitting than standing.

The player who was irritating you might have been making good, advanced plays all along.

Beyond that, I disagree that players making plays that are outside the basic strategy table ruin the game for others. He was betting his own money and has the right to make his own strategy decisions.

Besides that, another player’s strategy, even if it’s a mistake, is as likely to help you as to hurt you. Sometimes his play will be the reason the dealer draws 21 and you lose, but sometimes the card the other player draws will take the dealer once card deeper into the deck for a bust card.

We tend to remember the plays that hurt us more than the ones that help us, but they balance out over time. If you can convince yourself to ignore the play of others, that’s for the best. If you can’t, then when you find another’s play irritating, you probably should change tables.


QUESTION: I have seen the 40,000:1 figure thrown around a lot for the odds of hitting a royal flush in video poker. Do you know how this is derived?

ANSWER: The calculation assumes expert strategy for the game. It takes all possible starting hands, then assumes you play them out at expert level and calculates all possible outcomes. There are so many possible deals and draws that I can't walk you through the calculations here – I use WinPoker software to calculate such odds whenever I rate a new game.

The 1 in 40,000 figure varies somewhat depending on the game, because expert strategy differs a bit with each pay table. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, expert strategy brings us an average of one royal flush per 40,390 hands, while in “Not So Ugly” Deuces Wild, the royals come an average of once per 43,456 hands.

That’s due to a number of strategy differences between the games – in Jacks or Better, for instance, we’ll hold a single high card, giving us a long-shot chance to draw a royal around it, while in Deuces Wild we hold a single card only if it’s a 2.

There are differences even on different pay tables in the same game. If we’re playing expert level on 9/7 Double Bonus Poker, we draw a royal an average of once per 48,035 hands, while on the lower-paying 9/6 Double Bonus, we get more royals, an average of once per 40,864 hands.

That’s because the higher flush payback on 9/7 Double Bonus dictates that we hold three-card flushes. Dealt Jack-5-2 of diamonds, 9 of clubs, 7 of spades, we hold all three diamonds in the 9/7 version, but hold only the Jack in the 9/6 version. That means we have an outside chance at a royal in the 9/6 game, but we more than make up for it with extra flushes at 7-for-1 in the 9/7 game.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

 

About those slot machines

28 April 2016
Slot machines are the most popular games in casinos, and slot players’ questions frequently show up in my e-mail. Mostly, the questions are “how do I win” variety. But here are a few I’ve been asked more than once that look beyond your results for one session. How much do slot machines cost? That depends. ... (read more)
 

The reason you can take down don't bets

24 April 2016
QUESTION: My buddy and I were playing craps, and a guy across the table looked at his watch and said he had to leave. He was playing don’t pass, and they just took his bets down for him and gave him his money. When I’m playing pass, they won’t let me take my bets down. OK, the odds I can take down, but not the line bets. ... (read more)
 

Roulette volatility

21 April 2016
A reader named Bill contacted me to ask about betting options at roulette. “Everything I read tells me the house has the same edge no matter what bet you make,” he wrote. “So if all bets are created equal, why have all those different bets?” The house edge is the same, 5.26% on all bets but one on a double-zero wheel, with the exception being the five-number bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. ... (read more)

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John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski