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Best of John Grochowski

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Time is money in the casino, too

13 July 2010

When you choose a casino game, are you looking for rapid action? Feeling the need for speed?

Not so fast, my friend. Speed kills. That is, it kills your bankroll.

Time is money in the casino world as much as anywhere. And time is on the side of whoever has a mathematical edge on the game. Unless you're a skilled card counter at blackjack or an expert on certain favorable video poker games, that's not you. The more chances you give the house edge to work against you, the more likely it is that the house edge will grind you down.

What's a player to do? Look for opportunities to keep the tempo from going into hyperdrive.

**Play at full tables: Games move fastest when you're playing head-to-head with the dealer. Blackjack, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, Three Card Poker — it doesn't matter which game. If there are no other players at the table, the game is moving full speed ahead.

It takes time for the dealer to deal cards to more players, check everyone's hands, make payoffs and clear away the chips of those who have lost. The same goes for craps. Fewer players means shorter waits for players to get their wagers in action before the shooter gets the dice. After the roll, fewer players means less time spent making payoffs before the next round of betting.

How big a difference can it make? Huge. At a full seven-player table, blackjack moves at only about 50 to 60 hand per hour. When one player goes head-to-head with the dealer, you can figure on 200-plus hands per hour, even 250 with a fast dealer and a player who doesn't dally in making hit/stand decisions.

Think about that. If you're wagering $10 a hand, it means you're risking $500 to $600 per hour at a full table, but $2,000 or more if it's just you and the dealer. If the cards are bad, you'll be begging for fast relief.

**Favor hand-shuffled games: If you're an average player, hand-shuffled games are your friend. When the dealer shuffles the cards, play stops, the house edge isn't working against you, and there's even a little time for conversation with the dealer or to swap stories with other players. It's blackjack's little social time.

**Don't one-time it: At the craps table, there are dozens of betting options. Some are settled in a single roll, some take multiple rolls. Take the pass line. A pass bet could be decided on the come-out roll with a win on 7 or 11 or a loss on 2, 3 and 12. But any other number requires at least a second roll to decide. If the come-out is a 6, for example, that becomes the point and the bet stays on the table until either the shooter rolls another 6 for a win or a 7 for a loss. If the shooter rolls a sequence such as 5, 8, 11, 9, 12 — none of those count toward deciding a pass bet after a point is established. Your action just goes on and on.

But what if you bet the field, or any 7, or any craps? Those bets and a number of others are one-roll propositions. Either you win or you lose on every roll. It takes a lot of money to stay in action that way. Not only that. The house edge is higher on most one-roll propositions than on most multi-roll bets. Your pass line bet bucks a house edge of only 1.41%, while the house edge against any 7 is a whopping 16.67%. A high house edge at high speed is a fast route to a bankroll crash.

**Pace your slot play: Slot machines are the high-powered rockets of casino play, the fastest games in the casino by far. It's easy for a steady player to set the reels spinning 500 times an hour, and on a three-reel game with no bonus events, 1,000 times an hour is possible.

A slot player betting 75 cents a spin, whether it's three quarters, 15 nickels or 75 pennies, at 500 spins an hour risks $375 an hour. A $5 blackjack player playing 60 hands an hour risks $300 an hour — less than that low-limit slot player. Given the difference in house edges, that quarter, nickel or penny slot player actually averages more money per hour in losses than a $25-a-hand blackjack player who follows basic strategy.

To keep your bankroll intact, slow down a bit. Talk to the waitress when she brings your drink. Congratulate a neighbor on a big win. Watch surrounding players' bonus rounds. Enjoy the experience. There's no need to rush through play. Hitting the button to start the reels spinning anew as soon as they stoop puts you on the fast track to Exitville.

So take your time, relax. Take the short-term wins as they come, but don't get caught up in a game of fast money.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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