Those Costly Bargains

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Both my wife and I have separate casino club cards at the same casino. She plays slots while I mostly play video poker. We play about the same amount, $100 per visit, and yet, she receives more in comps that I do. Does that sound right to you? Martin G.

The reason your wife is getting more goodies than you, Martin, is because most casinos today rate slot play higher than your video poker play.

With expert play, some video poker machines can return in excess of 100%. Even the Average Joe winging it will get back 95 percent on select machines. If your wife is playing pennies or nickels, she is looking at returns of 80 to 90 percent. Her play, or as the house looks at it, her inevitable loss, is more valuable to them, hence, more in comps – and more smiles.

I liked your article last week on luck. As I read it, you definitely lean more towards skill than luck. However, you will admit skill doesn’t guarantee you being a winner. Alex H.

I quantified the significance of skill, and opined that the skilled player playing smart won’t hemorrhage so much hard-earned cash, but nobody, Alex, is guaranteed to win. That’s why they call it gambling.

Do you Twitter, and if so, anything regarding gambling? Tim M.

Sorry, Tim, I just never got into it so no tweeter-twatter from me. Besides, whoever was to subscribe to my tweet stream would quickly notice that my contributions to the twitosphere would be mostly food related, and if tweeted I was eating a chili dog at Lafayette’s Coney Island in Detroit, I would be fibbing and furtively eating four.

I have been reading your column for over 15 years and always take your advice. When playing craps, I limited my wagers to the Pass line, with odds, and placing the 6 or 8. On my last outing, my friend says that’s smart betting, but he is obsessed with also betting the 7. You have advised against this. If he is making two right bets, why is he insistent on making a wrong one? Ray M.

The quality of any wager, Ray, is based on the casino advantage, which is the amount the house theoretically earns per dollar bet, averaged over time. With a Pass line wager and a Place bet on the 6 or 8, you are making bets with a slight house edge, approximately 1.5%, then lowered even more when taking odds. By betting the Any 7, your friend is making the worst proposition bet on the crap table, and it should be dumped from his casino-betting repertoire.

With this one-roll wager, he wins if a 7 rolls, but if any other number appears, he loses. The odds are 5-to-1 of a 7 rolling, but the casino will only pay you 4-to-1. This gives the house an edge of 16.7%.

My guess is your friend either doesn’t understand, or care, that the greater the edge, the more money the casino keeps, or he is overly focused on a 4-to-1 payoff.

Proposition bets, and especially the Any 7, are just not the smart way to play craps. A bet on the pass line, taking odds, or placing the six or eight is what I call SMART GAMBLING. Stick to it, Ray. Let your friend donate to the casino’s coffers.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Luck never gives; it only lends.” ~Swedish Proverb

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