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Best of John Grochowski

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Which is better? Blackjack, roulette or baccarat?

10 March 2013

QUESTION: I'm a sports gambler, very little experience with table games. I usually stick to roulette. How does that rank among good or bad bets? I’m also curious as to which game you would recommend? Baccarat or blackjack for a newer table game player?

Both seem simple enough I guess, just don't want to lose my shirt – ha ha.

ANSWER: If you're playing on an American double-zero wheel, roulette has one of the higher house edges among table games at 5.26%. That drops to 2.7% if you're on a European-style wheel with a single zero.

That edge is offset somewhat by roulette moving slower than other table games. You have less exposure to the house edge than at faster games. Still, my preference is to use it as a change of pace game, a place to relax and have a little fun while playing at table minimums. With extended play, the house edge is high enough to grind you down.

Blackjack and baccarat have house edges among the lowest in the casino. In baccarat, the edge is 1.06% if you bet on banker, or 1.24% on player. Note that the edge on the roulette game you’ve been playing is about five times as high as the edge on baccarat. In blackjack, an average player faces a house edge of roughly 2% provided you stick to tables where blackjacks pay 3-2. A game with 6-5 payoffs tacks 1.4% onto the edge. I don’t play at such tables. If you learn basic strategy, you can knock the house edge down to half a percent or so, a few tenths more or less depending on house rules.

Which to choose? It depends on what you want out of the game.

Baccarat is easier. Just choose to bet on banker or player, and you have no more decisions to make. You get a pretty low house edge, as long as you stay away from the tie bet.

Blackjack has more meat to the game. You have decisions to make, making the game more interactive and fun, in my opinion. The house edge can be lower than that on baccarat, but you have to work at the game to get there.


QUESTION: Where I play craps the casino allows me to keep my bets up on my winning numbers (just like place bets). These are numbers that are made by making a come bet and then the number is hit. Is it better to keep my bet on the number or should I take it down and make another come bet?

Here is an example in case my question is not clear:

  • $10 come bet
  • Shooter rolls a 4 and my $10 goes to the 4
  • I take $10 odds and now have a total of $20 on the 4.
  • Next roll is a 4 and I win $30.
  • The house asks if I want to take down my contract bet, odds and winnings, or leave it up minus the winnings ($30).

What is the best decision for me to make?

ANSWER: You're better off to take it down and make a new come bet. Just as on pass, you have an edge on the come-out. With a new come bet, you have eight ways to win on the next roll, and only four ways to lose. The percentages are in favor of a fresh bet.

If you really wanted to be on the 4 for a total of $20, you could make a place bet for that much. Then when a 4 came up, you’d be paid at 9-5 odds. Your winner would be paid $36 instead of the $30 you’re getting for come plus single odds.

But that place bet faces a 6.67% house edge, and you can do far better if you start fresh with a new come bet. Starting anew gives you to chance at the come-out pays, and also gives you a chance at the shooter establishing more frequently rolled number as your come point. A fresh come bet has a house edge of 1.41%, and adding single odds drops the overall edge to 0.8%.

On pass and come, the come-outs are the best parts of the bet. Don’t pass that up.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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