Dear Mr. Scoblete,
I was reminded of this by your article, "Casinos Are the New High School." People were always screaming that someone or other wasn't playing correctly. The British feared breaking, even if the dealer showed a ten, and the dealers don't take a hole card. They complete their hand after all of the players. The same thing happened all the time in Wiesbaden, Germany, where I now live. The Germans made me quit playing table games because the players had no idea of basic strategy and the dealers were so aggressive about being tipped. The advantage of roulette is that any other player's decisions do not affect mine. I don't like roulette, so that was it for me.
You would love a bet that they offer at the Casino Wiesbaden on blackjack, which is dealt with a continuous shuffler unless you are willing to bet 50 or more euros per hand. It's called the "twins bet," and the proposition is that you will get a pair as your first two cards. It pays 11:1 with a minimum bet of ten euros if you get that pair, and you are paid with two five-euro chips on top of the stack, and you'd better toss at least one of those five-euro chips to the dealers. The twist is that if you get a joker as your first or second card, and then go on to make a pair, you are paid 200:1. I've been at the table when this situation occurred and have even hit it myself, but didn't have a bet up. I've let people bet my twins box, which sounds like something that should happen only in a racy novel, many times, but that's what the Germans call the place where you put your bet.
You're playing an eight-deck shoe, so the probability of drawing a pair is roughly 0.0747, neglecting the effect of removal, and the probability of drawing the joker and going on to get a pair appears to be about 2787:1. There are two ways to do it: draw the joker and then go on to be dealt a pair, or get the joker after getting your first card, and then have the third card match your first card. The twins bet is resolved after people receive their initial two cards (or three, if you got a joker). If you win the hand when you receive the joker, you are paid 2:1, even on a blackjack.
So, I need to sum a lot of numbers to get the expected value of the bet, but it doesn't look good. The house edge appears to start off at 11% because of paying 11:1 for a proposition that should pay 12.4:1, and then is reduced by the expected value of the 200:1 and 2:1 payoffs. It's up there with the "Crazy Crapper" bets.
Thanks for your letter. The "twins bet" sounds like another rotten bet offered by the casinos to take the players' money in a rather fast way. As for those dealers who are grubbing tips, that makes a game quite unpleasant for the players.
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