CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

A Shuffle through the Gaming Mailbag

17 July 2002

Q. Video poker and blackjack are the only casino games I play. I am not an expert, but I believe I'm better than the average or basic strategy player. There's a question I want you to answer. How long is "in the long run?" Whenever I'm dealt a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace up, I take even money. This way, I always win the hand. The object of the game is to try to win every hand. You said (and I hope I'm not mistaken) that in the long run, this is not a good play. So tell me how long is "the long run." Is it an hour, day, week, month or year? If I'm going to play blackjack an hour or two, I'll always take even money.

E.O., via e-mail

A. I disagree that the object in blackjack is to win every hand. That's a philosophy that's doomed to failure. The natural advantage that the casino has because it wins anytime both player and dealer bust means that we're going to lose more hands than we win, no matter what our strategy.

The real object is to maximize wins and minimize losses. One of the ways we maximize wins is to take the 3-2 payoffs on blackjacks and not give the money away on insurance.

Unless you are a card counter, the assumption when the dealer has an Ace up against your blackjack is that there is a 69.2 percent chance the dealer will not have a 10-value card down, and only a 30.8 percent chance that the dealer will have a blackjack. Let's say you're betting $10 a hand, so that the 3-2 payoff on blackjack is $15. When you take even money, settling for a $10 payoff instead of risking a push if the dealer also has blackjack, there's better than a 69 percent chance that you're giving away $5 of your winnings. You don't maximize wins by giving away money.

Taking even money is not just a bad play in the long run, it's a bad play every time you make it. Sometimes it works, just as other bad plays work sometimes. It's still a bad play, one that actually is more costly than some plays basic strategy players would never make, such as standing on 16 vs. 10.

The casino gives 2.3 percent of its natural edge back to us by paying 3-2 on blackjacks. I'm not inclined to give any of that back.

Even money is a form of the insurance wager, and the only reason to take insurance is if you're counting cards and know that more than one-third of the remaining cards are 10-values. At that point, insurance swings in your favor, and you should take it regardless of what your own cards are. If you're not counting cards, taking insurance, including even money, is giving money away.

Q. I really enjoyed reading your articles some time ago on jackpots won on slots. I'm sure the stories brought smiles to many of your readers. The second best thing to winning at a casino is seeing someone win and how happy they are. Here's mine:

While visiting the Wisconsin Dells, my wife and I decided to check out the Ho Chunk Casino. It was huge! And the variety of slots was great. For this special occasion I thought I would splurge, so my bankroll was a nice $400. My luck was bad. I thought these machines were very tight.

I was down to my last $40 and decided to play a 50-cent called All American (similar to Red, White and Blue, with "double" being wild). There was a whole row of these progressive machines with jackpots starting around $3,000. Again, no luck. So what do I do? I take three tokens and throw it in the machine next to me and BOOM! Double, Double, Double! I won $3,739.

I've also played 25-cent Wheel of Fortune and got a spin for 1,000 coins, and right after that got Red, White and Blue 7s.

Paul, via e-mail

A. Congratulations on your jackpot, and thanks for sharing your story. If anyone else wishes to send their jackpot stories, I'll revisit the topic from time to time. I'm particularly interested in stories of wins in unusual circumstances, such as back-to-back jackpots, first-spin jackpots and big comebacks.

Q. I know this question has been kicked around for several years, but I heard a new variation of the answer while watching a cable TV show in Las Vegas. After the initial deal of five cards in video poker, are the replacement cards predetermined or does the random number generator continue to work between draws, selecting the replacement cards only at the time you hit deal/draw button for the second time?

Royal, via e-mail

A. The RNG sets all 10 cards--the five you see on the screen and the five potential replacements--at the same time. It does not matter how long you wait to hit the draw button, you'll still get the same replacements.

Editor's note: Because of an incident in which people with the RNG formula were able to cheat video poker machines, most new video poker machines draw only five cards on the deal, continue shuffling the remaining cards, and then draw the replacement cards when you press the draw button.

Recent Articles
Best of 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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