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Best of Frank Scoblete

Gaming Guru

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The Oracle at Odds - Part 1

23 July 2001

This is the age of lists -- the top 100 movies of all time, the top 100 books of the 20th Century, the top 100 colleges for academic excellence or bargains or partying, and the top 100 women former President Bill Clinton scored with; plus all those weekly top 10 this list, and top 10 that list and top 10 those other things list. In the interests of keeping up with the list makers as well as the (Dow) Joneses, I decided to list the top 60 questions I am asked whenever I give talks about casino gambling. My list is in no particular order of importance, but these are the most-asked questions of yours truly and the answers that I give when I'm asked them. All value judgments are mine. So if I say this is the best thing, that is just my not-so-humble opinion. Of course, in my opinion my opinion is the correct opinion as today I assume my new identity as The Oracle at Odds -- Nostragamus! Ask and it shall be answered!

1. Can a person really beat the casinos?

Yes, a person can really beat the casinos -- if that person plays the right games the right ways. Unfortunately, most people won't be that person who beats the casinos because most people play games that give the casino the edge. You can -- with expert play -- beat the following games: blackjack, video poker, and regular poker. Here I am saying that you can actually beat the math of the game and get the edge.

2. How much of a [mathematical] edge can you get on these games?

A good card counter at blackjack playing games with good penetration and good rules can get between a 0.5 percent and a 1.5 percent edge. I'd guess most card counters are playing with a one percent edge. Good single-deck players are probably closer to the 1.5 percent, while good shoe players are probably closer to the 0.5 percent. A lot of the percentage advantage that a card counter has depends on how much money he can get on the table when the game favors him. On select full-pay or more-than-full pay video poker machines you can probably play even with the house to realizing about a two percent edge on some machines. On regular poker, it is much harder to estimate an advantage but some people can and do make a living playing poker.

3. What skills do you need to play poker?

First, you have to realize that even though you are competing against other people, you not only have to overcome them but you have to overcome the house rake on the pots. Poker requires two skills: a killer instinct and a knowledge, whether intuitive or actual, of the probabilities inherent in the hand you're working on. Most people can learn the latter information with study and practice, but very few have the goods in the killer-instinct department. Like a fighter who is technically perfect but just can't "pull the trigger" in a real fight, most poker players just don't have the full array of talents needed to be pros or even winning players.

4. How hard is it to count cards at blackjack?

Actually, it's like riding a bike. Remember when you couldn't ride and you got on a two wheeler? How could anyone ever keep that thing from falling? But once you learned to do it, it was the simplest thing in the world. At first thought, counting cards seems extremely difficult, but then you do it and you discover that once you get the hang of it, it isn't really all that hard. If you have average intelligence, you can do it, but that probably leaves out your brother-in-law.

5. So counting cards is simple?

Yes and no. If you are motivated to learn to do it, then you will learn it. If you aren't motivated, you won't want to put in the time and effort. But it is definitely not as hard as, say, graduating high school.

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:

> More Books By Frank Scoblete