Can you identify a good bet from a bad one? Take this quiz
to find out
By Mark Pilarski
Believe it or not, casinos do offer some decent wagers. Some
games, like blackjack or video poker, involve skill; others, it's
placing the correct bet in the right place on the layout. It's
your responsibility to play your favorite game-SMART. So let's
see how sharp you are.
1. With perfect basic strategy in blackjack, you can reduce
the house edge to under .5%.
2. Never play slots, as the house advantage is far too high.
3. Craps is too intimidating and not worth the effort of learning.
4. Like blackjack, with basic strategy play, the house edge
in video poker can be under .5%.
5. Baccarat is one of the easiest games to learn, plus, baccarat
offers some of the best wagers to make in a casino.
6. The bonus bet in Caribbean Stud is a good wager:
7. The Big 6 Wheel offers some of the best wagers in the casino.
8. Megabucks offers the same paybacks as regular dollar machines.
9. A pass line bet on a crap game is a much better wager than
the Hard 6.
10. The 5% commission charged on the "bank hand"
in baccarat makes it an inferior wager compared to a "player
11. The worst bet to make on a crap game is the "any seven."
12. The don't side on a crap game is a slightly better wager
than a pass line bet.
13. The game of War is a 50/50 casino wager with no house edge.
14. In video poker, you should always play the full number
15. It is better to play on loose Jacks or better 6/5 video
poker machines than on a very tight full-pay Jacks or better 9/6
video poker machine.
1. True: Blackjack is a game that many play, but few play well.
Solution: Play perfect basic strategy. Basic strategy is nothing
more than how you play your hand against the dealer "up card."
Playing it correctly will bring the house advantage down to well
less than one percent. Start by purchasing a basic strategy card
to help your play. Doing so will enable you to knock the house
edge down to just less than one percent instead of the 4-5 percent
the casino holds over the uneducated player.
2. False: Yes, you are reading it right. Playing slots can
be a decent wager. But only "liberal" slot machines.
What I mean by liberal slots are those in casinos that advertise
a higher payback percentage-like a 98.5% return-on selected machines.
Be forewarned, these high payback slots are usually only found
where the casino competition is fierce; plus when you do find
a casino advertising liberal paybacks, you'll then need to ask
someone in slot personnel which machines those are. Yep, there
is some skill involved besides pulling a handle when playing slots-it's
3. False: I highly recommend, actually implore you, to join
the euphoria of this fast-paced game and try craps. No need to
be intimidated, as you only need to learn these two wagers. A
pass line bet and placing the 6 or 8. Both have a house advantage
of less than 1.5 percent. Ask your friendly dealer (the first
two hours of his shift) how to make these wagers.
Disregard those proposition bets (hardways, field bets, one number
rolls, etc.) the dealer is barking out. Some can have a house
advantage as high as 16 percent.
4. True: There is no such thing as a bad video poker machine,
only bad paytables. Here is another opportunity where playing
perfect basic strategy on a machine with a decent pay schedule
can reduce the house advantage to well under one percent. Look
for a 9/6 (nine for the full house, six for a flush) non-progressive
machine or 8/5 (same as above) with a progressive meter attached
that reads at least $440 on a nickel, $2,200 on a quarter and
$8,800 on dollar video poker machine.
5. True: Baccarat is one of the easiest casino games to play
(you do not even have to know the rules because correct hitting
is predetermined), and the stakes are relatively low when you
play on a mini-baccarat table. The house advantage is either 1.17%
when betting the bank hand or 1.36% with a player hand wager.
Skip the tie bet: House advantage 14%.
6. False: Note there are 2,598,960 possible poker hands using
a standard 52-card deck. Now divide that figure by four (the different
suits) and you will come up with 649,740. Because you do not get
to draw any cards in Caribbean Stud, this mathematically is the
odds of hitting a royal. One in 649,740 is too big a differential
from the amount they plan to pay you for me to endorse this bet.
I cannot recommend this wager to anyone, nor the game Caribbean
Stud as the house edge is 5.3%.
7. False: All six wagers on the Big 6 carry a steep house edge.
That casino advantage is as follows: 11.1 percent on the $1 spot,
16.6% on the $2, 22.2% on the $5, 18.5% on the $10, 22.2% on the
$20, and 24% on either joker. By betting a steady diet of Big
6 wagers, you will run out of air speed and altitude quickly.
8. False: By offering the player a shot at slot immortality,
Megabucks shakes you down on the smaller payoffs. It is Megabuck's
progressive bonus that allows you to fantasize champagne wishes
and caviar dreams. On average, Megabucks returns slightly less
than a 90% payback while the typical $1 machine in Nevada averages
more than 95%.
9. True: A pass line bet, with no odds, has a house advantage
of 1.4%. With a $5 wager and 50 playing decisions per hour, your
theoretical loss (all bets lose over time) is $5 X 50 X 0.014,
or $3.50 per hour. Relatively cheap entertainment. In comparison,
the hard six or eight has a house advantage of 9.1%. The damage
to your bankroll would be $5 X 50 X 0.091, or $22.75 in the same
amount of time.
10. False: Based on the mathematics of baccarat, the player
hand should win 44.6% of the time, the bank hand 45.8% and the
tie 9.6%. If we discount ties, the player hand statistically will
win 49.3% of the time and the bank hand 50.7%.
Because the bank hand wins more than 50% of the time, the casino
neutralizes the edge you would have over the house by charging
a 5% commission every time you win a bank hand bet. By charging
this hidden tax, the casino's advantage is now 1.17% for bank
hand and 1.36% for the player hand. But even with the commission
added, you can see that the bank hand is still a slightly better
bet than the player wager.
11. True: The worst wager on a dice game is the "any
seven" bet. This one-roll proposition bet has a house edge
12. True: You are correct in assuming that the don't pass
bet (seven rolling before the point) is a marginally better wager-a
1.4 percent casino advantage versus the pass line's 1.41 percent-BUT,
craps is a game of community esprit, everyone in it for the win
together. By betting the opposite, you become the adversary, a
villain against the majority of players. Why let the casino off
13. False: War, a variation of the same senseless game you
played as a youngster on the kitchen table, is a no-go wager.
Both you and the dealer each receive one card, and the high card
wins. In the event that both cards are equal, you must double
your initial bet, and two more cards are dealt. Again the high
card wins; however, you win only your original wager. This is
how the casino pickpockets your billfold. The casino advantage
from this one rule change: 7.14%.
14. True: If you look at the paytable closely, you will notice
a non-symmetrical progression on the royal flush payline. Your
typical royal flush payline looks like this; 250, 500, 750, 1000,
4000. Note the jump with the fifth coin inserted. Not playing
that fifth coin will cost you 12% over the long haul.
15. False: No such animal exists in the green felt jungle.
Because every hand is dealt randomly, tightness and looseness
of a video poker machine are strictly based on the machine's paytable.
A 6/5 paytable (6 coins returned for a full house, 5 for a flush
with one coin inserted) would be considered tight, no, very tight;
whereas a 9/6 machine (9 for a full house, 6 for a flush) would
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