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Best of John Grochowski

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Don't make these bets

27 July 2010

People play casino games for different reasons, with different goals, and that's something I try keep in mind when writing about the games.

You're out for some entertainment on the slots? Great, I'm not going to tell you to leave that behind just because the house edge is lower on blackjack. You love roulette? Fine, I'm not going to drag you to the craps table for better odds.

What I will tell you is that within the range of games people play, there are plays that should never be made. If you're thinking about doing any of these — don't.

**Playing a progressive slot without betting enough to be eligible for the jackpot. On three-reel slots, you usually have to bet maximum coins to be eligible for a progressive jackpot. On video slots, it sometimes takes a side bet. Whatever it takes, you need to either make the bet or go to a non-progressive game. Progressive slots nearly always bring less in non-jackpot payouts than other slots do.

**Betting four coins in video poker. On the first four coins, royal flushes pay 250 coins for each coin wagered On the fifth coin, the jackpot jumps to 4,000 coins. The result: The house makes ALL its money on coins Nos, 1-4, and gives something back to players on coin No. 5.

Let's use 9/6 Jacks or better — where full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1 — as an example. With expert play and making maximum bets of five coins per hand, the overall return on the game is 99.5%. But if we look at the five-coin wager as five one-coin bets, on the first coin we're getting a 250-for-1 payoff on a royal flush, and our return is 98.4%. Same on the second coin, the third and the fourth. But on the fifth coin, our royal pays an additional 3,000-for-1 to bring us up to the 4,000-coin total bonanza.

If we bet four coins, we get only 1,000 back on a royal, but if we bet five, we get 4,000. With that bonus payback in mind, our return on the fifth coin is 106.2%.

That's true on nearly every video poker game. The return on the fifth coin brings back in excess of 100% of what we put in. When we stop at four coins, we give away so much return in exchange for so little savings.

If you're short-bankrolled and can bet only a coin or two, so be it. But if you're betting four coins, you're spotting the house its maximum edge while passing up the good stuff. Ugh.

**Betting Big 6 or Big 8 in craps. Big 6 and Big 8 are decided exactly the same way as place bets on 6 or 8. If the shooter rolls the 6 or 8 before a 7, you win, but if the 7 comes first, you lose. But the place bets pay 7-6 odds, while the "Big" bets pay only even money. You have to bet in multiples of $6 to place 6 or 8, but it's worth it. This is no time to think big.

**Betting on any 7 in craps. All the one-roll propositions are tough on your bankroll, with fast action and high house edges. Any 7 is the worst, at 16.67%. Still, some players like to use any 7 to hedge their pass line bets, partially covering their losses when the shooter rolls a 7 with a point active.

Problem: Any 7 is decided on every roll, and pass bets aren't. You can lose two, three, four and even more any 7 bets in a row, all while waiting for the pass bet to be decided.

Let the pass bet stand on its own. Save your money on the hedge. Never bet any 7.

**Betting ties in baccarat. Bet on the banker hand, you face a house edge of 1.06%. Bet on the player hand, and it's 1.24%. Ties? How does 14.4% grab you? You have two of the better bets in the casino, and one that'll take your bankroll in big chunks. Pretend the option's not even there.

**Making roulette's five-number bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. There are dozens of options at double-zero roulette that give the house a 5.26% edge. There is one bet where you spot the house 7.89% instead. Guess which one? There are better ways to spend your money.

**Splitting 5s in blackjack: If you have a pair of 5s, you have a two-card 10. That's a great start to a hand. Split them, and you start two hands with 5 each — a pretty bad building block. Why do it?

The dealer busts only 42% of the time with a 6 face up, and 43% with a 5 up. More than half the time, the dealer makes a 17 or better, and by splitting the pair, you've put yourself in a much worse position when the dealer doesn't bust.

The time to split 5s? The same as the time to bet four coins in video poker, or bet Big 8 in craps. Never.

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