Ask The Wizard #114

I would like to know if you put your real name, address, phone number, date of birth when you sign up in online casinos.


Yes, to all of those things. If some of the shadier casinos find you provided false information they will use it as an excuse not to pay you. Besides, these pieces of information are not that hard to come by for someone looking to abuse or steal your identity. Recently Crazy Vegas casino asked for my Social Security number, which I thought was going too far. I gave them a phony one. When asked for my mother’s maiden name, by anyone, I give the name of my cat.

Can you please, please, please put me out of my misery and answer a question that’s been plaguing me for months and I just can’t seem to find an answer to. I play baccarat mostly for leisure, and have created my own decision rules for when to bet Banker or Player, betting only 1 unit per hand (no betting systems for me). Out of curiosity I tried my decision rules on the both Zumma books (a total of 1600 shoes) and returned a tidy profit (betting an average of 60 hands per shoe). Zumma states that when betting this many hands, his shoes are enough to validate a strategy on a conceptual basis. Yet I’ve have read that 1600 shoes are not deemed a significant sample size given the large number of possible B/P combinations in a baccarat shoe. I thought about the effect of large populations when selecting sample size (where at a certain level increasing the population does not materially increase the required sample size), and after using different on-line sample size calculators, get around 2,400 shoes as being a significant enough sample for a population as large as the baccarat BP combinations (4,998,398,275,503,360 according to your calculations). So is it 2,400 or 1,000,000+? P.S. Learning so much from your site, definitely the best I’ve found.


There is no magic number of at which you enter the long run or to determine when a sample size is big enough to prove a hypothesis. It is always a matter of degree. However we can say the standard deviation of the sample mean is inversely proportional to the square root of the sample size. Your question is rather vague so let me rephrase it: what is the sample size required so that the sample mean will be within 1% of the actual mean with 95% probability? From my house edge section we see the standard deviation of the banker bet is 0.93 and of the player bet is 0.95. Since you go back and forth we’ll use the average of 0.94. Now I’ll wave my hands and get an answer of 33,944 hands. At 60 hands per shoe that comes to 566 shoes.

You say "No betting systems for me", but decision rules as to when to bet banker or player is definitely a betting system. But I’m still skeptical that you return a tidy profit over 1600 shoes.

While playing triple-play should any of your strategies change? Example: 4 cards to an inside straight w/no pay cards showing. Should we go for it or throw the entire hand for a fresh deal? Thank you. Also: what is your personal opinion of playing triple play ($1.00) opposed to single play ($1.00) machines? My husband and I play only video poker and have been for 10 years

Ray and Katherine from Florida

Given the same pay table the strategy is exactly the same for 1-play, 3-play, 100-play, and any-play. Personally I prefer the multi-play games if the pay tables are the same. However the multi-play games usually have stingier pay tables. The more the hands, the worse the pay table.

We recently went to Casino Niagra in Canada I was playing blackjack with a full table of players. The play went around the table as normal, I stayed on 17. When it came to the dealer she had an 8 showing flip her unshown card was a ten equals 18. She then proceeded to take a hit on 18 (by mistake)and threw up a Jack which was a bust on 18. I felt this should have been a misdeal or a push for all but the dealer said no it was not valid since the house rules are dealer Stays on 17 and above and Hit on 16 and all below. I disagreed with the call and the pit boss came over and stated the dealer is correct and you lose. I sure would appreciate your thoughts as I totally disagreed with the call. Plus I had a large bet riding so maybe it is just my sore losing side coming out. I sure can’t wait to get an experts thought on this once and for all.


I side with the casino. The rules state the dealer stands on 18. The dealer has no free will and once she got 18 the 18 is firm. The extra card dealt does not alter the dealer’s 18 and it was correctly burned. In a one or two deck game some casinos will reshuffle in that situation.

Hi, I’ve been playing in two online casinos for about one month. I have been lucky and I have won about $1500 so far. I want to ask how much do you think that is save for me to win in 1 online casino a day so I wouldn’t be labeled like an advantage player or casino wouldn’t just closed my account because of my luck. I am worried that if I would win let say $50-$100 a day in one casino they would find the reason to close my account. I don’t use any robot I am just lucky. Please help me.


Much like trying to identify card counters it isn’t how much you win, it is how you play. The biggest red flag that a player is a bonus abuser is that he stops playing shortly after completing the terms of a bonus. It also doesn’t help if the player is flat betting and playing low house edge games. You didn’t mention bonuses at all so if you didn’t get one then you should be fine. If you did get a bonus but gave the casino at least 50% more play than required then you should also be okay. Anyone in the gambling business with any sense would see the big picture, that in the short run there will be some winners, losing days, and maybe even losing months, but in the long run the house edge will prevail and the casino will win.

My boyfriend of almost seven years, not to mention the father of my child, has been acting strange. I know that we have a lot of things going on and we are both stressed but I’m worried he is acting this way because he is cheating? He swears he is not and says he would never do that but I’m not sure. Please help.

mom in Connecticut

As I said in the November 11, 2000 column you shouldn’t make any accusations without evidence. Lots of men act strangely if they get a case of the seven-year itch, but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily cheating. My advice is to either hire a private detective or give him the benefit of the doubt.