Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Frank Scoblete
A Mountain of Mistakes Creates Big Losses22 March 2007
Most marriages that go sour do so because of the slow but steady build up of seemingly small mistakes that, over time, become awfully big mountains that are impossible to overlook or scale. These mountains are rarely political ("I can't stand Harry because he's a Democrat!"), rarely religious ("Gertrude is always in church!"), rarely large ("Since Grog murdered all those people, I just can't look at him anymore!"). In fact, the pieces of the mountain are usually just small things that have joined together over the years to become a large thing -- a bad marriage. The final act by one or both spouses, whatever that might be, is not really the cause of the marriage's dissolution, just the final knockout blow.
Unfortunately, some casino gamblers have poor marriages with the house. They go to casinos time and again and rarely if ever win. Why? Because they make bets that are bad to awful. Many of these bets are for small amounts of "change" and the player is usually completely unaware that those bets are actually doing him in. If you find that you are in a poor marriage with the casino, this article should definitely help you.
Some games are good and some games are bad. Everyone knows that. But not everyone knows that some good games can actually be bad games, if the player plays that game poorly (blackjack) or makes bad bets at that game (craps). And some bad games can actually be good games (roulette), that is, if the pace is slowed to a crawl so that the hourly loss is actually relatively low.
So what are the bad games?
Okay, slot players, sorry to do this to you, but you're up first.
Just about every slot machine comes in with house edges of 3 percent to 17 percent. Most 5-cent machines have high house edges -- 10 to 15 percent; most $5 machines have lower edges, somewhere in the 3 percent to 5 percent range. The money that can go through a machine in a single hour is staggering and slots do, as we all know, make the most money for the casinos.
Watch how staggering the level of action, and your expected losses, can be.
Let's take a look at a dollar player. He plays full coin, $3, every spin. A normal slot player will usually do about 12 spins per minute. That's $36 per minute going through the machine. In a single hour, a one-dollar player puts through $2,160. Most dollar machines are taking about 7 percent (yes, I'm being generous) from the total put through the machines. Now watch: Our one-dollar slot player can expect to lose about $151.20 per hour! You're not reading that wrong. That's one hundred fifty-one dollars and two dimes!
A good game, for example, the table game baccarat in the high roller room, will see a $100 player lose about (hold your breath!) a mere $50 per hour. Yikes! A one-dollar slot player can expect to lose about three times more than a high rolling baccarat player.
Not only do slots have high house edges but also the pace of the game is as fast as a slot player can make it. That combination, speed and number of decisions per hour, is the killer of casino bankrolls.
But most slots are not the only bad games, although they are the worst of the worst, because there are table games that are almost as horrendous.
Go through the table game areas of any casino and what you will see is that dealers deal, usually with a smile and/or professional attitude, and some players laugh and joke, and some drink and smoke, while still some others wince and whine and, guess what, when the sessions are over -- a significant majority of table-game players have lost. Some table games are dreadful on a player's bankroll; some are not quite that bad; they are merely rotten.
Dreadful and rotten -- the tag team from Hades.
Perhaps the overall worst table game, though, is Sic Bo, a game that has many sad, bad, and terrifying bets, with some of them coming in with house edges in the 40 percent range! If you play for one hour and experience 60 decisions, a $5 player playing those 40 percent edges, can expect to lose $120 -- almost as bad as the slot machines! The best bets at this worst of games are the high and low bets -- which come in with a 2.8 percent house edge. A $5 player at this game will (only) lose about $8.50 an hour if either of those two bets are the only ones made. But it is rare that players who are attracted to the brightly lighted layout of Sic Bo stick to making the high and low bets; most go for the thrill and kill and quickly find their bankrolls slaughtered. They are moths to the Sic Bo flame and you know what flames do to the moths, right -- poof!
Some of the "newer" games (also known as "carnival" games) such as Let It Ride, Three Card Poker and Caribbean Stud, can also take serious whacks at your bankrolls. Although the house edges on these games are (only!) between 2 and 3 percent, the number of decisions goes from about 60 for Caribbean Stud to about 90 for Three Card Poker. In addition, there are more than one bet at each of the games. In fact, both Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud have "jackpot" bets that can be made -- each coming in with house edges around 25 percent most of the time. Even though these are merely one-dollar bets, 60 to 80 decisions will equal average hourly losses of about $20, give or take, and that money can really add up -- and obviously does.
The ultimate carnival game is -- ta da! -- the Big Wheel, a game that has house edges in the 10 percent to 20 percent range. How tough is the Big Wheel? Well, Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rainman, could not beat the Big Wheel -- and he could memorize all the cards in a six-deck blackjack shoe! If he couldn't beat the monster, then Big Wheel is definitely a game to be avoided -- the best bet at the game is one of the worst bets in the casino. The Big Wheel is for players who are looking to make their full contribution to the casinos without having to stay too long.
The really new games, with the exception of Spanish 21, are all fast, with at least 2 percent edges and/or multiple bets going for them. Although most "new" games don't hang around for a long time (quickly: what was Two Up, Crapette, and Red Dog?), all try mightily to soak as much money out of the table game players as they can -- and, of course, table game players either rapidly or slowly will usually wake up to that fact and stop playing those games.
However -- good news! -- Spanish 21 is actually a decent game, if you play the correct basic strategy (see my book The Armada Strategies for Spanish 21), although the game is nowhere near as good as traditional blackjack.
GOOD GAMES CAN BE BAD
…if you play the good games, blackjack and craps, correctly, you will have a good chance of winning on any given night. Unfortunately, most players play the good games so poorly that the house makes a stunning profit on them.
Let's take the easiest game first, blackjack. There are two strategies at blackjack. The first is called "basic strategy" and is the computer-derived play of every player hand against every dealer upcard. It is the optimum way to play your hands, especially if you aren't counting or following which cards have come out of the deck. The other way to play blackjack is -- every other way! That's correct, the homespun strategies of mega-legions of blackjack aficionados are quite simply wrong. Some are a little wrong (standing on 12 against a dealer's 2 or 3) some are big-time wrong (taking insurance when the dealer shows an ace), but all put the game more seriously into the casino's favor than needed. Suffice it to say that if you play your own strategy, no matter how brilliant you think it is, you are giving the casinos a wonderful shot of taking you down for the full 10 count.
Craps is a different story as it has a multitude of possible bets, almost all of which are just not worth making. The edges at craps can be as high as 16.67 percent (that's a loss of $16.67 for every $100 you wager) or as low as a dime for every $100 you wager. What determines the house edge? Your betting style!
In craps, you are truly the master of your destiny to a very large degree.
Let's take a look at some of the awful, though beautiful-sounding, one-roll bets, at the game of craps. You have the dreadful Any 7 or Big Red, which has that 16.67 percent house edge. You can bet the 2 (snake eyes) or 12 (boxcars), each having a 13.89 percent house edge (that means you lose $13.89 per $100 wagered on these bets). You can bet the 3 or the yo-11, both coming in at 11.11 percent. These are just a few of the many awful one-roll bets at the game of craps.
So why do players make these awful bets? First, most don't realize that the house edges are that steep and many players think that they are just putting up a dollar on these and what harm can that do? The fact is that in a given hour of craps rolling, there can be at least 120 decisions. Those one-roll "dollar" bets can lose you anywhere from $10 per hour to almost $20 per hour -- and that is per bet! Imagine someone betting a dollar on several awful bets for each and every roll as many craps players do. Those are killer edges to try to overcome and, in fact, in the long run no one can overcome such high house edge bets.
The second reason many players make these bets has to do with the primitive emotional consciousness that often occurs at the craps tables. When a shooter starts to hit number after number, many players get into a kind of betting frenzy, making bets that they shouldn't make, hoping to make a killing. These players are not thinking of house edges; in fact, these players aren't thinking of anything. They are glued to the game, and their betting, as one player said to me, "just happens."
There are only a few good bets at craps, if we define "good" as bets coming in with 1.5 percent house edges or less. You have the Pass Line with odds; the Come with odds; the Don't Pass with odds; the Don't Come with odds. You can also place the 6 and 8 (a 1.5 percent house edge) or buy the 4 or 10 at $25 if the casino only takes the commission out when you win (about a 1.3 percent house edge). In some areas of the country, notably Tunica, Mississippi, you can also buy the 5 and 9 and only pay the commission on a win as well. Again, the house edge is near that 1 percent mark for such a buy.
Yes, that's it. With that handful of bets, and a small handful at that, you can play a very close game against the casino in craps. If you start making those other bets, you will find that craps can be like a devouring monster, looking to consume all the money you have.
WHAT TO DO AND WHEN
We know that there are bad bets and bad games in the casinos. However, no casino employee says to the player, "Hey, bub, make that awful bet or else!" You freely choose to make the bets you make or play the machines you play. So why not choose the best bets and cut down on the number of decisions you play on the slot machines?
It makes sense to me that a good bet, one that has a fairly decent chance of winning, and one where the house takes very little for itself, is the kind of bet that is the most fun to make as well. After all, it's one that you have a good chance to win.
Frankly speaking, fun in a casino game should be defined as -- you guessed it -- money! Now, who do you want to have the money, you or the casino? Play the right machines (non-progressives) slowly; make the best bets at craps; play basic strategy at blackjack; avoid the other carnival games and you'll have a chance to bring home the bacon on the days and nights you go to the casinos.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of Frank Scoblete