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Best of John Grochowski
A shuffle through the gaming mailbag26 July 2012
A. There are different answers depending on the size of your bankroll. Getting the best deal at craps takes money, whether it's in taking the odds on pass and come bets or laying the odds on don't pass or don't come.
If you have a large enough bankroll, you can get a pretty good blackjack game for a basic strategy player. If you're betting $25 a hand and up, you can find games where house edges are below 0.2% in Las Vegas or in Mississippi, in the vicinity of 0.4% in Atlantic City or 0.34% in Illinois. So it goes through most of the United States. If you bet enough, you should be able to find games with house edges of less than half a percent.
Even so, you can do better than that on some craps tables if you can afford enough free odds. If what's available is the 3x-4x-5x odds, the house edge on the pass-odds combination is 0.37%, and on the don't side it's 0.28%. That closely approximates the house edge against blackjack basic strategy players.
But when the odds available increase, the overall house edge drops below that on blackjack. On the pass side, we see 0.18% at 10x odds, 0.10% at 20x, and 0.02% if you're one of the moneyed few who can afford 100x odds. Bet the don't, and those edges are a bit lower, at 0.13 at 10x odds, 0.07 at 20x and 0.01 at 100x.
That's great if you have the bucks, but the average punter who bets $5 or $10 a hand at blackjack can't get that kind of deal at craps in most markets. At a $5 craps table, taking advantage of 3x-4x-5x odds means having $20 at risk -- the $5 line wager plus $15 in free odds -- if the point is 4 or 10, $25 on 5 or 9, or $30 on 6 or 8. And that's if the player is sticking to one number working. That's something I've rarely seen at a craps table.
To hold the wager size down to $5 or $10 for a limited bankroll means higher house edges at craps. Without shelling out the extra cash for free odds, the house edge on the pass line is 1.41%, and on don't pass it's 1.36%. You could place 6 or 8, but the house edge is 1.52%. If you stick to one $5 pass bet plus $5 in single odds, you're talking 0.8%, or down to 0.7% on the don't side.
Blackjack for low-limit players usually has tougher rules than the high-limit games. Low-limit games in which the dealer stands on all 17s have become rare, and the hit soft 17 rule gives the house an extra 0.2%. Games around a 0.6% house edge against a basic strategy player are common. A 0.4% game is a lucky find. At either level, it's a lower house edge than a true low roller can get at craps.
The bottom line is a dual answer. With enough bankroll, you can get a lower house edge rolling the dice than a non-card counter can get at blackjack. But with limited funds, I'd stick to the cards.
A. If you're looking for the lowest house edge in baccarat, then the way to get it is to bet banker on every hand. The house edge is 1.06% on banker and 1.24% on player, and there's nothing you can do to change that. Bettors have no decisions to make that affect outcome, and the game isn't vulnerable to card counting in any practical way.
Bettors switch sides to add interest to the game. Many like to play the streaks, jumping on player when it's won a couple in a row, then riding it until it loses. Others just like the intrigue of the guessing game over which hand will be closer to 9 this time. But by the numbers, banker always is the better bet.
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 email@example.com.
Best of John Grochowski