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Best of Frank Scoblete

Gaming Guru

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Gambling Grade School #3: Speed Kills

14 January 2005

Remember in the 1970s, there used to be television commercials about the effects of speed, that is, the drug methamphetamine, on the human body? How the drug caused one to go into overdrive and burn out? Then they'd show a picture of some poor schlep who had taken his fair share of the drug and darn if he didn't look worse than even Michael Jackson.

The slogan for all those commercials was "Speed Kills."

That very same slogan could be applied to casino games as well. Even games with relatively benign house edges can become ravenous, malignant monsters sucking the lifeblood out of your bankroll when decisions pile upon decisions in short order.

Just look at mini-baccarat, a game with a low house edge on two of its three bets (just over 1 percent), and we can appreciate how speed can make that lively game deadly for the players. Let us take the best bet at the game, the Bank bet, and see what happens to our hourly loss rate as we start to accelerate the number of decisions.

If you bet $10 per decision, you can expect to lose about 12 cents per decision in the long run. If you play 40 decisions per hour, you can expect to lose $4.00 per hour of play. Now watch:

50 decisions = $6.00 per hour
60 decisions = $7.20 per hour
70 decisions = $8.40 per hour
80 decisions = $9.60 per hour
90 decisions = $10.80 per hour
100 decisions = $12.00 per hour

Okay, you say, how many people playing mini-baccarat will play 100 decisions per hour? The answer might startle you: Just about everyone. In fact, it is not unusual for mini-baccarat to have 150 decisions per hour - an expected loss for the $10 player of $18 per hour! Even with a low house edge the $10 player at mini-baccarat will lose almost as much per hour as a player facing an outrageous 5.26 percent house edge at roulette. Roulette will have about 35 decisions per hour. A $10 player stands to lose $18.40!

Of course, when you think about it speed exacerbates everything. Let me show you by way of a simple experiment you can do right now in your own home.

Stand up. Get about ten paces from the wall. Now, shuffling your feet ever so slowly head for the wall - as slow as you can get your body to go. Now, hit the wall with your head at that speed. What happened? Nothing. You hardly felt a thing, right?

Now, go back to the exact spot where you began your experiment - go on, I'll wait. Now, one, two, three - go! Head with all the speed you can muster headfirst into the same spot on the same wall.

If you were actually foolish enough to do that second experiment, you are now reading this article in the hospital as you probably knocked yourself out and now have a concussion. Speed changed everything! You started from the same spot; hit the same wall; used the same head. The results were radically different.

When gaming writers talk about which games and bets at various games are the best, we often just talk about the house edge. But speed must also be considered. We ignore speed at our own peril.

The ideal game for the player would be one that has a very low house edge and a very slow pace. For the casino, the ideal game is a high house edge and a high speed.

The casino usually gets its wishes and in the high-house-edge high-speed stakes, they come up a winner - it's called slot machines! Even though players can choose their own speed at the slots, just like most motorists on highways, the players tend to think the faster they go, the better off they'll be. Most slot players will play approximately 8-12 decisions per minute or 480 to 720 decisions per hour - all those into house edges ranging from two to about 17 percent! Yeow!

Here's a list of the games and the approximate house edges and speeds that you'll face:

Game House Edge Speed
 (Decisions per hour) 
Blackjack 0.5 percent 60-90
Baccarat 1.25 percent 40
Mini-Baccarat 1.25 percent 100-150
Caribbean Stud 2.6 percent 50
Let it Ride 2.8 percent 70
Three Card Poker 2.2 percent 80
Roulette 5.26 percent 35-40
Craps Varies based on bets  Varies based on bets 
Machines  1 percent (video poker) to 17 percent on some slots  480-720

So what's the bottom line on speed? Slow down! What's your rush? Where are you going with fast play? Nowhere and that is nowhere fast!

Articles in this Series
Best of Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

> More Books By Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

Beat Blackjack Now!: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge!

> More Books By Frank Scoblete