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Ask the Wizard #174

Wizard, could you please describe the equivalent odds of the California SuperLotto Plus (1 in 41.4 Million), in terms of number of consecutive times of rolling 7 or 11? I heard it somewhere before. Most people cannot comprehend the lottery odds. But, the rolling of dice -- they can relate.

Tim from Belmont, CA

Let n be your answer. The probability of rolling a 7 or 11 is 8/36. To solve for n:

(8/36)n = 1/41,400,000

log((8/36)n) = log(1/41,400,000)

n × log(8/36) = log(1/41,400,000)

n = log(1/41,400,000)/log(8/36)

n = -7.617 / -0.65321

n = 11.6608

So there you go, the probability of hitting the SuperLotto is the same as rolling a seven or eleven 11.66 times in a row. For those who can’t comprehend a partial throw I would rephrase as the probability falls between 11 and 12 consecutive rolls.

Does it matter what numbers you pick in video keno at all? I understand that it is a RNG chip like any slot machine and that the numbers are just to give us the illusion of control. I’ve tried writing IGT but they won’t respond. Thanks!

Jari from Minnetonka, MN

Much like live keno the odds are the same regardless of what you pick, but they are independent of the balls the game draws.

I play at a casino in London that offers single deck blackjack. The player can play three hands: thus, there are a lot of cards exposed. Do you know of any tables/calculator that works out the exact composition best play in these circumstances.

David from London

The blackjack calculator at gamblingtools.net (www.gamblingtools.net/bj/ppbj.html) is perfect for this kind of game. Now you just have to get the casino to let you use your computer at the table.

Quick question about withholding tax. As a Canadian I know the casino will withhold 30% on any slot winnings over $1200. My question...on the ticket out system in most Vegas hotels would the tax be charged on any ticket cashed out over $1200? Even if it wasn’t won on one specific jackpot and had accumulated over time? Will any $1200 always be a hand pay jackpot? and how do casinos handle players on high denomintaion machines? ie. three of a kind on a $500 machine would require a tax form.

Tim from Brampton

Only single wins of $1,200 or over are subject to withholding. If you won over $1,200 in small wins you would not be subject. When you press the cash out button the machine doesn’t know your citizenship and will just print a voucher for whatever you had. Any $1,200 or over win will always lock up the machine until an employee unlocks it. On high denomination games, usually starting at $10 or $25, the casino may keep a log of all your taxable wins. On a $500 machine, I’m sure they would have somebody standing right next to the machine do the paperwork. When you are done they will give you a single W2G form for the sum, and in your case subtract the withholding from that.

Hey Wizard - I love the site! My wife and I just returned from Vegas, and I really noticed the proliferation of 6:5 Blackjack games all up and down the strip. Thanks to your site, and the numerous articles that you wrote or linked to, we were able to avoid these games entirely. I did notice, however, that most of these tables seemed to be close to capacity, and I’m wondering how long you think it will take before the ’blissfully ignorant masses’ begin to hear about how insidious this small rule change is? At first glance, it seems like the ’pitch game’ that my wife and I like so much (and could only find downtown in the past) and I think a lot of people just don’t realize the edge they’re giving up. If we hadn’t read your site, we might have thought the casinos were responding to customer demand for pitch games. Keep up the great work.

Thayer from Atlanta, GA

Thanks. The ratio of 6 to 5 games will only go up, in my prediction. You could ask the same question about lots of games. Why do people play 8/5 jacks or better video poker when a 9/6 game is across the aisle? Why do people play double zero roulette when the same casino has single zero? Why do people bet more than the minimum on the pass line, but then don’t take full odds in craps? Granted, sometimes game limits are an issue but you see people betting large amounts foolishly all the time. My own guess is that it is easier to believe in luck and superstition than to do a little reading about the odds.

"What luck for rulers, that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler

In baccarat, how much edge do a player get if the first card showing (accident by the dealer) is 9. I saw it happens twice in the casino and everyone bet a huge amount (included me) on player hand and lose both time. My basic math tell me that 50% of the time the player hand will stand on 6 points or higher and will have a about 70 percent chance of winning. Is it a good time to max out my bet? Is it just bad luck or the advantage is not that great for an all in bet?

Davis Q from San Diego

I hope you’re happy, I just made an entire section to answer this question on flashing dealers in baccarat.

At sites like BoDog you get bonuses for each deposit. Once I make a deposit, and play enough time to be able to withdraw it, is it proper etiquette to withdraw the entire balance and shortly thereafter re-deposit the money to earn another bonus?

Mark from Merrick

Reload bonuses are intended for players who blew everything the last deposit, although this usually is not a direct requirement. It doesn’t look good to make a partial withdrawal and then quickly deposit again, just to get a reload bonus. Completely withdrawing will raise less red flags, but still won’t look good. To avoid suspicion it looks good to completely withdraw and allow time until the next deposit, the more time the better. I would suggest at least a couple months.

How much would it increase the house edge if the player took insurance every time in blackjack?

RJM

The dealer will have an ace up 1/13 of the time. The house edge on insurance is 7.395% in a six-deck game, on average. However, this is applied to half a bet size. So the expected loss of always taking insurance is (1/13) × 7.395% × 0.5 = -0.00284. So the house edge would go up by 0.284%.

Hi wiz. Great Site. Just wanted to know why many casinos impose bet limits on roulette tables. e.g. you can bet $100 on RED but only $10 on say the number 10. Is the casino avoiding some sort of risk or are they safe-guarding me?

Kevin from Johannesburg, South Africa

Thanks. I think they are trying to minimize risk by limiting the maximum win.

I was recently reading some "dealer stories" on a website and read about some craps dealers that were told "You’ve got to learn blackjack". These stories mentioned things like dealers pretty much learning the games on the tables. One dealer taking over for another who was letting players split anything they wanted, etc. My question relates to the training that casinos in the US offer. At my casino (and most, if not all others in Australia) training is done by the casino, in a training room and you must be at a certain level to be able to deal the game on the floor. You also need a coding from the government before you can deal the game. Major games such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, poker and pai gow take 1 week of fulltime training (3 weeks if its your first game). Where as games such as Caribbean stud, 3 and 4 card poker etc only take 4-8 hours of training. So how do casinos train in the US? And would situations like i described (splitting odd cards, not following the rules) really happen over there?

Jarrod from Sydney

Training is much more informal here. I asked a friend of mine who was a former dealer about this. He said assuming you were already a dealer at a high-end Strip casino, they might have you go to a 2-hour training class in the casino on company time to learn the game. An economy casino might ask you to get the training elsewhere on your own time and dollar.

A friend of mine believes that casinos benefit from the tendency of gamblers to leave the table when they’ve reached their stop-loss, but stay when they’re winning. My position is that this behavior may have some effect in the short run, but in the long run it has none and the house edge determines the casino’s earn. Although it seems plain as day to me, his argument must be seductive since other (reasonably intelligent) friends of ours have bought into it. I’ve tried every argument I can think of but my buddy remains unconvinced. I was hoping you could set him straight.

Harold from Los Angeles

You are right. In the long-run, betting systems and the reasons for a bet don’t matter. With a limited bankroll, ruin is frequently the outcome. However, there is also a cap on the downside, with an almost unlimited upside. In the long run it all averages out and the casino makes close to expectations based on handle and the house edge.