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Best of John Grochowski

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Better blackjack players

7 August 2016

QUESTION: You mentioned that casinos are saying players are better and they have a smaller house edge in blackjack than they did years ago. What does that mean to players? Why should I really care about this?

ANSWER: The main effect for players is a tightening of comps as casinos see less value in blackjack players.

A couple of decades ago, I was told in casino-sponsored seminar that the casino assumed a house edge of 2 to 2.5% against an average player. More recently, table games execs have told me they now assume an edge of 1% or less on games with 3-2 payoffs on blackjacks. At wizardofodds.com, Michael Shackleford has reported a figure of 0.75%.

Let’s say I play blackjack at $25 a hand and play long enough to make wagers totaling $10,000. That’s 400 hands, and that will take about seven to eight hours at a full seven-player table or less than two hours playing head-to-head with the dealer.

If the house assumes a 2% edge, then its theoretical win on my play is $200. If it assumes 1%, the theoretical drops to $100, and at 0.75% it’s just $75.

Comp levels have been reduced in post-recession belt-tightening, so let’s assume a casino that returns 10 to 20% of its theoretical win in the form of comps.

At 10%, my comps would be worth $20 at the casino assuming a 2 percent edge, $10 at 1% and $7.5 at 0.75%. At a 20% comp rate, it’d be $40, $20 and $15.

At equivalent rebate levels, the assumption of a lower house edge cut blackjack comps to half or less of former amounts.

There’s some irony in that this comes in a period of higher house edges against basic strategy players. Even most six-deck games have the dealer hit soft 17, which adds two-tenths of a percent to the house edge. Other rules have been tightened, too.

If the house-edge assumption is 2% and you’re playing basic strategy at a table with rules that yield a 0.3% edge a basic strategy player, you can fatten the comp account at low cost. If the assumption is a 1% edge and the rules are set so basic strategy takes you to only 0.7, the opportunity gap narrows in a hurry.


QUESTION: What do you think of playing $1 at a time in a dollar video poker machine instead of $1.25 on a quarter machine? My casino has 9/6 Double Bonus on dollars, but only 9/5 on quarters.

ANSWER: With a full five-coin bet, 9/6 Double Double Bonus brings a 98.98% return with expert play. But with fewer coins wagered, the return drops to 97.83%. That’s because you’re getting only 250-for-1 payoff on royal flushes instead of the 4,000-for-5 with a max-coins bet.
With a full five-coin bet, the drop to 9/5 DDB lowers the return to 97.87% – a hair higher than 9/6 DDB with short-coin wagers.

Per 1,000 bets, one coin at a time on a dollar 9/6 DDB game would risk $1,000 and lose an average of $21.70, while full coins on a quarter 9/5 DDB game would risk $1,250 and lose $26.62. So yes, your average losses would be slightly less money by betting $1 on the 9-6 game than $1.25 on the 9/5 version.

The tradeoff is that the max jackpot with your $1 bet is $250, while the $1.25 bet on the lower-level machine leaves open the 4,000-coin, $1,000 royal. It’s up to you to choose what you want out of the game.
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:

> More Books By John Grochowski