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29 March 2015
By John Grochowski
QUESTION: I have a question about splitting 4s in blackjack. When I learned basic strategy, I memorized that you always split the 4s if the dealer has 5 or a 6. That’s what I’ve done for years and years. Lately I’ve been seeing others hitting instead of splitting, even guys I know a little bit. I never noticed them not splitting before. Am I missing something?
ANSWER: Without knowing the specific rules where you play, it’s possible that your casino has toughened conditions. Specifically, we play a pair of 4s differently if players are allowed you to double down after splitting pairs than if we aren’t.
In multiple-deck games where doubling after splits is permitted, your best play for a pair of 4s is to split if the dealer shows a 5 or 6, just as you learned, and to hit against all other dealer upcards.
However, if the casino does not allow doubling after splits, it limits the profitability of starting two hands with 4 each against a dealer 6, and turns the play into a net loser against a dealer 5. Hitting 8 against a 5 or 6 is a play with a player edge, and it’s the play to make if you can’t double after the split.
Summary: Split 4-4 against 5 or 6 and hit against all other upcards if you can double after split, and just hit against all upcards if you can’t.
In a single-deck game, there’s another wrinkle. In one-deckers, the best play is to split against 4, 5 or 6 if you can double after splits. If after-split doubling is not allowed, then just hit 4-4 against 4, but double down against 5 or 6.
Single-deck games are rare, and I find most unplayable because of 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks. But if you should ever find a playable single-deck game, remember to adjust your 4-4 strategy.
QUESTION: When I play craps, I make a pass bet with odds, then make come bets on 6 and 8, or whichever one of them is not the point on pass. I’ve been poking around on the Internet, and see some people recommend that after the pass, I should make come bets instead. What’s the advantage?
ANSWER: You can back come bets with free odds, just like you can take the odds on a pass line bet. There is no house edge on the odds, and that lowers the edge on the pass-plus-odds and come-plus-odds combinations to less than 1 percent, compared with 1.52 percent on 6 or 8.
Let’s say you’re at a casino that permits 3x-4x-5x odds, a pretty common offering nowadays. That means if the point is 4 or 10, you can back a $10 pass or come bet with $30 in odds; if the point is 5 or 9, your odds bet is $40, and if it’s 6 or 8, the odds bet is $50. Since true odds are 2-1 on 4 or 10, 3-2 on 5 or 9 and 6-5 on 6 or 8, any winning $30 odds bet pays $60.
If you have a pass bet and two come bets, all backed with 3x-4x-5s odds, you have three numbers working, each with a house edge of 0.37 percent. If you have pass plus odds followed by place bets on 6 and 8, you have one number with a house edge of 0.37 percent and two with house edges of 1.52 percent.
Which direction you go is between you, your bankroll and your personal preferences, but the house edge is lower if you bet pass and come with odds than if you make the place bets.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 March 2015QUESTION: My question has to do with the lack of single-line, 25-cent reel slot machines in many of the casinos I look to play at in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. They’re tough to find, the once popular Red White Blue; Wild Cherry; and Double Diamond slots ... while rows and rows of various penny slots sit idle. ... (read more)
19 March 2015Carl is a video poker player who has written to me off and on for many years. I’ll sometimes go a year or two without hearing from him, but then a question will pop into my email box. In the latest, he wanted to some information about progressive games, where a percentage of each wager is added to the usual 4,000-coin jackpot on royal flushes. ... (read more)
15 March 2015QUESTION: I live in the Las Vegas area and frequent several locals casinos. I play mostly video poker, but I keep my eyes open as I walk through the casinos. It seems that lately the turnover of penny slot machines has increased, with more titles and themes being introduced more often. This has led me to ... (read more)