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Best of John Grochowski

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Blackjack versus video poker

20 December 2015

QUESTION: If I’m in a casino that has $10 blackjack tables with a half-percent house edge, and $1 9/6 Jacks or Better, which also has a half-percent house edge, which should I play?

ANSWER: That depends on a number of factors, including what you want out of the play experience. Video poker is a more volatile game, with a portion of its payback tied up in big jackpot hands.

Bet $10 at blackjack, and the most you’ll win with a single-bet is $15 on a two-card 21. Bet $5 on video poker, and you could draw a royal flush for $4,000.

The tradeoff is more frequent losing hands at video poker. Video poker gives you a better chance to win big, but also will drain your bankroll faster. Blackjack gives you more small wins and a better chance to extend your play.

If you’re OK with both the even-keel game and the more volatile experience, then we can look at what the difference in bet sizes and game conditions mean to your average loss per hour.

Since you mentioned the half-percent edge on both games, I’m going to assume you play basic strategy in blackjack and know optimal strategy for 9/6 Jacks or Better.

If you play 50 hands per hour at a full seven-player blackjack table, your $10 wagers mean a $500 risk per hour. With a half-percent house edge, that’s an expected hourly loss of $2.50. If there are fewer players at the table and the dealer moves at 100 hands per hour, the average loss increased to $5, and if you’re head to head with the dealer at 200 or more hands per hour, it’s $10-plus.

Video poker moves much faster. There’s no waiting for other players to make decisions or for the dealer to make payoffs. So even though at a $1 machine with a max bet of $5, you’re betting less per hand, you’re betting more money per hour.

At a moderate pace of 500 hands per hour, you risk $2,500 and average $12.50 in losses per hour. I currently play about 700 hands per hour, which would kick the average loss up to $17.50. When I was younger, I played in excess of 800 hands per hour. At 800, the average hourly loss is $20.

So if your decision is driven by which game has the lower average hourly loss, that’s blackjack.


QUESTION: My friend and I were talking about craps. It uses six-sided dice, which are so common that it never even gets mentioned there are dice with other games that have more sides. If you used 12-sided dice instead, what would that do to the game? And if you only used one die instead of two, could you have a game with about the same odds?

ANSWER: If you used two 12-sided dice, there would be 144 possible combinations instead of the 36 you get with two six-sided dice. It wouldn’t be difficult to devise a game with reasonable odds, but it would probably lose out in the marketplace with the current game of craps so well entrenched.

You could devise a game using one 36-sided die that would have the same odds as craps. The faces just couldn’t be marked 1 through 36. You’d need six faces marked 7, five each marked 6 and 8, 4 each marked 5 and 9, three each marked 4 and 10, two each marked 3 and 11, and one each marked 2 and 12.

You couldn’t have hard way and hops bets that require exact totals on two different dice, but the rest of the game could mimic traditional craps.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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