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New Table Games Show Potential

19 December 1999

LAS VEGAS Every year, I make my way up and down the aisles at the giant World Gaming Congress and Expo, trying out every new table game I can find.

There are specific things I want to find out. Is the game easy enough to play for a first-timer? Is there enough going on to hold the players' interest?

Is the house edge low enough that players have a chance to win? If players can't win, they won't stick around, and there will be even less profit for the house than if the house edge is too low.

Is the game easy to deal? The casino doesn't want to spend time and money training dealers only to wind up with a slow, mistake-laden game.

Derek Webb seems to have just the right touch. He devised the popular Three Card Poker, which he has since sold to Shufflemaster. At the World Gaming Congress, he was back with four new games - not yet licensed - at his Prime Table Games booth.

Two are blackjack variations called JackBlack and Hit & Win. There's a dice game called Yes Dice and a baccarat game called PlayBacc. All have potential.

Take PlayBacc, the baccarat-based game. In regular baccarat, new players often are confused by arcane hit; stand rules and by the basic concept of betting on banker. "Am I betting on the house?" they wonder. "If I'm the player, how can I bet against player?"

PlayBacc relabels the two hands as "P" and "B," keeping the ties to baccarat by using the initials of the player and banker hands, but not challenging a newbie with the notion of betting against the player. It also does away with the hit; stand rules - P and B each get only two cards; the higher total wins.

Players can bet on P, B or tie. They also can bet on two of the wagers, or even all three at once - all three win if there's a tie on an odd number. P and B bets lose if the tie is on an even number. Zero is defined as an even number, and counting face cards and 10s as zeroes leads to zero occurring more frequently than any other total. That means even ties occur more often than odd ties, leading to a house edge of 1.2 percent on P or B.

PlayBacc's house edge on the tie bet is 3.7 percent.

Hit & Win is a blackjack game with a 1.9 percent house edge in which your win is based on your margin of victory over the dealer. If your 21 beats a dealer 17, you win by four and get a 4-1 payoff.

Webb's other blackjack game is JackBlack, in which the dealer's cards are dealt first and players share one hand. The house edge is 1.6 percent.

In YesDice, three dice are used. Players may bet on whether any number shows up once, twice or three times on the three dice. House edges range from 2.3 percent to 6.9 percent, but making that first bet also gives players the chance to bet on whether more odd or even numbers will turn up. There is no house edge on that bet.

Webb's track record with Three Card Poker means he'll get a second and third look from operators looking to add new games.

Another game worth a look also is from a small company. Gaming Entertainment, which last year placed its game Super 9s in the Sahara in Las Vegas, is back with a three-in-one game called 3 Way Action.

In the latest from Gaming Entertainment's owner, Ya Awada, cards are dealt from a single deck. Players begin by making three equal wagers. The first wager is decided on one card, player vs. dealer, high card wins. If there's a tie, the player loses half of his bet.

That first card is then used to start a hand of blackjack for bet No. 2. And after the blackjack hand, enough cards are dealt out for a hand of seven-card stud poker for bet No. 3. There are no raises or additional bets allowed on the poker hand - it's a simple showdown. The house edge comes from one stipulation: If the dealer does not have an Ace or better, the player is paid only half of his original bet.

That leads to house edges of 2.9 percent on the one-card showdown, a normal blackjack edge of about 2.5 percent against an average player or less than 1 percent against a basic strategy player, and 3.2 percent on the seven-card stud hand.

Despite playing three different games at once, it's all less complicated than it sounds. The individual games are easy and familiar, and the whole package moves quickly.

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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