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Best of John Grochowski
Do opposites detract?16 June 2016
Betting red while partner bets black in roulette doesn’t work because you both lose on the zeroes. Betting pass while a partner bets don’t pass in craps doesn’t work because when the pass player loses with a 12 on the comeout, the don’t player doesn’t win. He just pushes.
The bets don’t precisely offset, so “opposites” systems don’t give you your comps for free, which is the object of the exercise. The systems lose money and you pay for your comps, just like anyone else.
I’ve not really tacked the opposites issue in baccarat, though I once saw a single player try to pull it off by himself instead of working with a partner.
A man who appeared to be in his early 50s, wearing a jacket and tie bought in at a mini-baccarat table where I was playing. He put down a $10 bet on banker, then surprised everyone by also putting down a $10 bet on player.
The dealer did a double take, then said, “Choose.”
The player said, “Excuse me?”
And the dealer replied, “Choose. You can’t bet against yourself.”
There was a low-key exchange of words, the pit supervisor was called in for a ruling, but eventually the player took down his player bet and let his banker bet stay.
If he had left both bets up, his opposites still wouldn’t have offset each other. The arithmetic is a little more complicated than in craps or roulette, because there are more possibilities when you’re dealing with eight decks of cards than with 38 roulette numbers or two six-sided dice.
There’s also another complicating factor in that bettors must pay the house a 5% commission on any winning bets on banker, while they pay no commission on winning bets on player.
That’s because banker bets win more often than player bets. If the house didn’t charge a commission, customers would have an edge on banker bets.
Per 1,000 hands, banker bets win about 459 times, player bets win about 446 times, and the remaining 95 hands are ties. If you’re betting banker or player, ties push, so we can disregard them in this bit of number play.
Let’s isolate the 905 times in which there is a banker or player win, and say I bet $10 a hand on banker and you bet $10 a hand on player. Between us, we risk $20 a hand, or $18,100.
On your 446 player wins, you keep your $10 bet and get $10 in winnings, leaving you with a total of $8,920.
On my 459 banker wins, I start by keeping the $10 bet and get $10 in winnings for a total of $9,180.
Those add up to the $18,100 we risked, so if that’s all there was to it, our opposites-attract-comps scheme would work to perfection.
However, I have to pay a 5% commission on my winning bets. That’s a 50-cent surcharge on each of my 459 winners, or a total of $229.50 in commissions. My $9,180 is reduced to $8,950.50, and our total is reduced to $17,870.50.
Instead of breaking even, our system has lost $229.50.
Just as in craps and roulette, baccarat has a built-in defense against players who think they can get their dinners for nothing and their rooms for free. The commission on banker winners in baccarat bring to a rapid halt the notion that opposites attract comps, without risk of gambling losses.
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Best of John Grochowski