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Best of John Grochowski

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Should I switch to craps?

27 September 2015

QUESTION: It has occurred to me that there is really no good reason – mathematically speaking – for a gambler to learn basic strategy. The most common blackjack game today is six decks, dealer hits soft 17, and no surrender – a fairly lousy game. That gives the house an edge of 0.66% over a player using perfect basic strategy.

Craps offers a better gamble with a house edge of 0.60% for pass/double odds or 0.37% for 3x-4x-5x odds. A person can learn how to get that lower edge in a couple of minutes rather than spend many hours learning blackjack basic strategy.

Not only is the edge lower and the game easier, but it is also healthier as the gambler must stand and use his/her arms.

With the casinos getting greedier and greedier, an eight-deck game paying 6/5 on blackjacks is likely to be the standard in the future. I wonder why the casinos have not changed the rules at craps, too.

When are casinos going to learn that loose slots and good games are good for their bottom line?!


ANSWER: Trends in blackjack are disturbing, to be sure. It’s not that long ago that having the dealer hit soft 17 was most common on one- and two-deck games, while the large majority of six- and eight-deck games had dealers stand on all 17s. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to find any tables with the stand on all 17s rule, the better version for players.

And the spread of games in which blackjacks pay 6/5 instead of 3/2, increasing the house edge by 1.4%, is an abomination.

Still, there's reason enough to learn basic strategy for many, not even considering those few who can count cards and turn a profit.

Blackjack may no longer have the lowest house edge in the casino, but it still has the lowest house edge many players can afford. At a $5 table, pass plus double odds means $15, even if you have no other bets working, and how many craps players are going to settle for that? At a $5 blackjack table, a player can risk $5 at a time.

Certainly, the erosion of playing conditions and increasing house edge are worrisome to those who love blackjack. If 6/5 payoffs become common, it’ll be just another game, with a house edge in line with Three Card Poker and other so-called “carnival games.”


QUESTION: There are so many different kinds of video poker, I know I can’t keep the strategies straight for all the different games. Is it better to really learn one or two games, and play only those?

ANSWER: Mistakes can be costly, and if high-paying versions of your favorites are available, it might be best to stick to them. However, what if you find yourself in a casino with high-payers on other games, but modest-to-low pay tables on your main games?

Let’s say you’ve prepared to play Double Double Bonus Poker, but find 8/5 DDB, a 96.8% game with expert play, and 8/5 Super Aces with a 60-for-1 straight flush, a 99.94% game. Will using your DDB strategy cost you so much it isn’t worth playing the higher-paying game?

You’re better off with the better pay table. Using 9/6 DDB strategy on the Super Aces game reduces the long-term payback by only 0.05%, to 99.89%.

Stick to the games you know well as long as the pay tables are competitive, but if there’s a big difference in game quality, you’re usually better off with the stronger game even if you’re fuzzy on strategy fine points.
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:

> More Books By John Grochowski