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Best of John Grochowski

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Baccarat card counting and craps 'put' bets

22 March 2018

QUESTION: Tell me something about the tie bet in baccarat. It seems to me that there must be some cards that make ties more likely, and that if you count cards there must be situations where the tie becomes a good bet.

Do you have any tips on when to play the tie bet?

ANSWER: Most casinos pay 8-1 on tie bets when the dealer and banker hands have the same value. That's a 14.36 percent house edge, and it is much too high to overcome.

Both the late mathematician Peter Griffin and John May have written that it might be possible to get an edge on ties at the very end of a shoe. May wrote that when the end of a shoe is rich in even-value cards — 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 — ties are more likely because two even values yield even values.

Eliot Jacobson, who long has explored advantage play in his AP Heat blog, did an analysis that basically confirmed May's findings. You can find Jacobson's report at https://www.888casino.com/blog/baccarat-tips/beating-the-baccarat-tie-bet/.

If the count is right with seven cards remaining in the shoe, you could have an edge on ties. However, the opportunity is limited by a typical 14-card cut in eight-deck baccarat shows. Essentially, there is no practical way to get an edge on the tie bet at an 8-1 return.

The situation is different if the casino pays 9-1 on ties with a house edge of 4.84% — only about a third of the house edge at 8-1. Jacobson found bettors using a specialized count could get an edge on ties while betting on 2.269% of hands. He details the method and the counting system in the link above.

However, casinos with the 9-1 payoff are rare. I've never seen one.


QUESTION: My friend likes to use put bets in craps. He says that if you take at least 5x odds, it's better than pass plus odds. Can you explain?

ANSWER: Your friend is a little confused. When the point is 6 or 8, if you back a put bet with 5x odds, the house edge is the same 1.52% as a place bet on either of those numbers. If you back a put bet on the other point numbers with 4x odds, the house edges are the same as the place bets on those numbers — 4% on 5 or 9 and 6.67% on 4 or 10.

With more odds, the house edge on the put-plus-odds combo drops below the edges on place bets.

However, the put/odds combos do not drop below edges on pass/odds combo. If you bet on pass and back with 3x, 4x, 5x odds — approximating the odds of backing put with 4x or 5x odds — the house edge is 0.37%.

The put bet is a much weaker starting point than a pass bet. For the uninitiated, a put bet is a wager on the pass line made after a point is established. You can choose to put only the frequently rolled 6 and 8, but you lose the opportunity presented by the comeout roll, where there are eight ways to win and only four ways to lose.

The result is that before taking odds, the house edge on a put bet on 6 or 8 is 9.1%, and the edges are 20%t on 5 or 9 and 33.3% on 4 or 10.

The edge on pass before odds is 1.41%.

If you're bankrolled to take enough odds, put bets can be a viable alternative to place bets, but they can't beat the house edge on pass plus equivalent odds.
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:

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski