CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Elliot Frome

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

It All Starts with Strategy

12 October 2004

In the pre-game show of any football game, the coach is always asked about what his game strategy is. All successful coaches will have one. This concept applies to just about anything that is based, at all, upon skill. It is certainly true when it comes to casino gambling.

Some people will tell you that gambling is all about luck. There is no doubt that luck plays a part. It plays a part in most everything, including our football game example above. Assuming you're a football fan, you've frequently seen how a game can be decided by the 'lucky' bounce of a football, whether it be off the ground or off a goal post. Just because luck plays a part in the equation, does not mean there is no skill involved.

When it comes to casino games, skill plays a part in just about all of them. It's not physical skill, but mental skill. Some games require complex strategies, such as blackjack or video poker. Others require relatively simple strategies, such as Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. In most cases, these strategies won't turn the tables on the casinos, but they will give you a fighting chance. The irony is that if EVERYONE used proper strategy when playing, the casinos would not be able to afford to give the player such a fighting chance. Imagine a blackjack table, returning 99%, with 7 players playing $10 hands. If the table deals 40 hands an hour, the house would expect to make $28 per hour if everyone played perfect strategy. This would not cover their costs! In reality, Las Vegas casinos probably hold 15-20% of blackjack play, which translates to $420-$560 hour for such a table.

The difference between these two amounts ($28 vs. $420/$560) is created because most players do NOT use perfect strategy or anything even close to it. In the case of blackjack, perhaps some people feel that such a complex strategy is simply not worth learning. However, how can someone sit down to play a game like Three Card Poker and not have learned the ONE AND ONLY strategy point that you need to know. If you have a Q-6-4 or better, you play. Otherwise, you fold. This past week, while in Las Vegas, I got two firsthand looks at how the casinos can offer a game playing better than 98% and still pay their bills.

While at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), I spoke to a table game developer about strategy for his new game. The discussion turned to Three Card Poker. This developer felt that you should never Fold while playing Three Card Poker. Given the number of times the dealer won't qualify, you should play all hands. I explained that the math did not prove his theory. The dealer will fail to qualify only about 30% of the time. This is simply not enough to justify putting up 2 units in the hope of winning 1 as opposed to forfeiting the original bet. In fact, using a strategy of never folding will reduce the overall payback of the game by about 1.7%, or more than double the house edge!

My second dose of reality happened when my wife and I sat down at a Three Card Poker table. This was the first time my wife had sat down at a table game. My wife was armed (of course) with proper play strategy, but initially appeared a bit uncomfortable getting used to table play. A friendly player sitting next to my wife started to explain the game to her. When she got to the discussion of play strategy, she told my wife to definitely play with a Queen, but that you can usually beat the dealer even if you only have a Jack as the dealer frequently doesn't qualify. As I make a point not to identify myself at a table, I just whispered to my wife to stick to the right strategy.

I wanted to explain to the woman that it matters little whether you have a J-10-8 unsuited or a 2-3-5 unsuited. The only way you will win is if the Dealer does not qualify and that will happen roughly 30% of the time. Needless to say, this woman dropped about $300 in an hour, while my wife and I managed to turn a small profit, playing with $100 between us, and playing for about 2 hours.

Now, this was all for a game with simple strategy. Playing wrong can 'only' cost the player about 2% in payback. Imagine playing with such poor strategy while playing blackjack or video poker and you can easily give up 5-10% in payback back to the casino. Maybe I should titled this article, It All Starts AND ENDS with Strategy!

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome
Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome