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Best of John Grochowski

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Banned and mini-baccarat

31 July 2016

QUESTION: I play mostly craps, maybe once a month in casinos in Ohio. I can get to both Cleveland and Columbus pretty easily. I also go to Atlantic City maybe once a year and Las Vegas a little less to indulge in some casino-hopping.

A guy I work with likes to talk, and he said he was barred from playing craps by a casino in Nevada. Is that even possible? I’ve heard of blackjack card counters being barred, but I didn’t think it happened in other games.

ANSWER: Yes, skillful craps players have been barred in some casinos. So have video poker players and even slot players.

The pressure point comes when the casino operators think you’re skilled enough to have an edge and beat them consistently.

Some casinos are more tolerant of skilled play than others and will ignore skilled play at low betting limits. A low-limit player who consistently wins small amounts can be good PR for the casino, spreading the word to friends and relatives. Besides, if you bar a low-limit card counter, you might also lost the business of a slot-playing spouse.

Others will bar any advantage player they spot. I’ve heard of a casino barring a blackjack player with a base bet of $5 a hand and spreading up to only $15 a hand.

The craps players I’ve heard of being barred were thought to be dice controllers who could increase the proportion of point numbers and decrease the proportion of 7s to get a mathematical edge.

In video poker, a combination of skilled play at high-paying games with concentrating play on multiple-point days or other promotional periods seems to be another.

The slot players I heard of being banned were in the early 2000s, and they were taking advantage of banked bonuses. Players would collect icons during play. Advantage players knew they had the edge if another player left behind a game with some of the icons already collected. They’d step in if someone else had left enough coins in the bank in Piggy Bankin’, enough stamps in the book in S&H Green Stamps, or enough daggers in the pirate ship rail in Buccaneer Gold.

None of this is illegal. Like card counting, it’s just skillful play. However, courts have repeatedly held that casinos may bar skillful players. Some swing a mighty ban hammer, barring players with a tiny edge at low limits.


QUESTION: Baccarat is supposed to have such a low house edge, but when I get in a bad streak, it just kills me. At a $10 table, betting the minimum, I buy in for $100, and I’m reaching for the second $100 before I know it. At blackjack, it seems my money goes farther. At least, that second $100 rarely has to come out as fast as it does in baccarat.

ANSWER: If you’re playing for $10 a hand, it’s most likely a mini-baccarat table. That’s a very fast-moving game. Only two hands are dealt – a player hand and a banker hand – and all decisions are automatic. The dealer completes the hands rapidly.

In blackjack, the dealer has to wait for players to make strategy decisions. Decisions on whether to double down or split pairs also can slow down the game.

The result is that a full seven-player blackjack table moves at between 50 and 60 hands per hour. Even a full mini-baccarat table can move at more than 200 hands per hour.

Baccarat house edges of 1.06% on banker and 1.24% on player are low, but the speed of the game can be hazardous to your bankroll.
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:

> More Books By John Grochowski