Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
John Grochowski Archives
More Strategy Experts

Gaming Guru

author's picture

Bad Blackjack and Bad Craps

19 October 2014

By John Grochowski
QUESTION: I have a neighbor who works for a casino, and I was bending his ear, telling him the blackjack games were getting too tight. They're still paying 3-2 on blackjacks here, but they all hit soft 17, even on a six-deck game, and some are double on 9, 10, 11 only with some other bad rules.

I guess he got tired of listening to me, because he finally said, "So play something else, or don't play."

Is that what it comes down to? I thought business was bad. Wouldn't it help to make the games better?

ANSWER: That’s probably a thought that has crossed the mind of every player who knows the games well enough to have an opinion. In a period when business is slack, when we see three Atlantic City casinos closing, why are the games getting tighter instead of looser? Isn’t it backward thinking to tighten the games to put the squeeze on players who have kept coming instead of loosening them to attract additional business?

I asked an exec at a Midwest property that had lost business in the face of new competition if given the new reality of the marketplace, any consideration had been given to moving more midmarket, with lower minimum bets and better playing rules. He said, “We need the games to make a certain amount of money per unit.”

Later, I called on an old acquaintance and longtime source, a retired casino general manager. In his opinion, today’s operators are inclined to sell the sizzle of resort side of the business, and try to sell the casino end of things with rewards programs and promotions. But, he said, selling gambling comes down to pushing the latest new slot machines, rather than games with lower house edges.

That operators should try to sell slots as their prime gambling attraction is only natural. Slots account for 80 percent-plus of gaming revenues, and even more in some markets.
Blackjack and video poker players who really care about the odds and their shot to win are a diminishing share of the market.

There is another side to it. A different, current exec told me, “If I make my games looser, so will the competition, and we end up with an arms race where neither one of us makes money from the games. I’m not going to get into that vicious circle.”

QUESTION: What do you think about betting any 7 (in craps) when the shooter has been really hot? There has to be a 7 eventually, right? I was thinking the other night when the shooter made five passes in a row, that after there was a point, instead of the odds, I might be better off to bet on 7.

ANSWER: You’d be trading a free odds bet with no house edge for an any 7s bet with a 16.67 percent house edge. That’s not a trade I’d make, no matter how long it had been since the last 7.

Not only that. The free odds bet stays in action until the shooter either makes his point or 7s out. The any 7s bet is a one-roll bet, and you could have to replenish many times over before the shooter’s next 7.

That it has been a long time since the last 7 has no impact on the likelihood that there will be a 7 on the next roll, or the next, or the next. Six of the 36 two-dice combinations are 7s, so there is a 1 in 6 chance the shooter rolls a 7 on any given roll. The dice have no memory – they don’t know how long it’s been since the last 7, and they don’t have to go into any makeup time. If the shooter has gone 20 rolls without a 7, the chance of a 7 on the next roll is 1 in 6. If the shooter has rolled five consecutive 7s on comeouts, the chance of a 7 on the next roll is still 1 in 6.

A 1 in 6 chance is the same as true odds of 5-1, but the casino pays only 4-1 to get its 16.67-percent edge. That’s a bet to avoid, no matter what kind of streak the shooter has been on.

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


Team Play at Slots

16 October 2014
A few years ago, I spoke with a Wisconsin man who for more than a decade had been treating playing slots as a team sport. He and a group of friends traveled to Reno every year for the world’s largest cribbage tournament, and while they were there, they took a group plunge at an IGT Megabucks machine. ... (read more)

Bonus Craps Bets

12 October 2014
QUESTION: My friend and I were playing around with the idea side bets, especially craps bets where you get a bonus if you win three times in a row. Maybe you’ve seen something like them. You bet the lucky number, and your bet stays in action until you’ve either won three times in a row or you’ve lost. ... (read more)

Where'd the Three Reelers Go?

9 October 2014
A recurring theme in my email box is, “Where have all the three-reel games gone?” Modern slot machine floors are dominated by video slots, with estimates of up to 85 percent of casino floors going to video. Still, there is a corps of players who like the reel-steppers that stood virtually alone as slot options into mid-1990s and which still made up the majority of machines into the early 2000s. ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

  • Featured Articles

Craps Systems

Craps players love systems, trying to mix and match bets in hopes of finding the magical formula that will beat the casino. Just about any system will work sometimes, and when a player wins with a system, it encourages another try, and another, and another. In the long run, of course, the casino comes out on top. ... (read more)

Multi Strike Poker

It was a Friday morning in Joliet, and I'd been playing a little video poker aboard Empress II, waiting for the 11 a.m. opening of Empress I and its video poker room. Soon, if it hasn't already happened by the time you read this, Empress' new barge will open, ending such little scheduling inconveniences, but on this day, I found myself passing time with a little quarter Triple Play Poker. ... (read more)

Comps - The Basics

A colleague of mine likes to refer to casino comps as "free stuff." And for those who know their basic strategy in blackjack, optimal strategies for certain video poker games and who know how comping systems work, the "stuff" really is free--the value ... (read more)

Basic Strategy for Spanish 21

In the last couple of weeks, we've looked at basic strategy in blackjack. Sit down at most blackjack tables in any jurisdiction, play basic strategy and you'll narrow the house edge to a half-percent or so, perhaps a little more or a little less depending on house rules. ... (read more)

Single-Deck Basic Strategy

Those whose casino memories stretch back far enough may recall a time when the standard "Las Vegas Strip" blackjack game was dealt from a single deck of cards, with the dealer standing on all 17s. That started to change in the 1960s as operators grew ... (read more)
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, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

John Grochowski Websites:

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski