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Ask the Wizard #185

Hi Wizard. Thanks for maintaining this web site! I have a question about a blackjack rule that is applied in Dutch casinos: When being dealt a pair of sevens, a third seven will earn you 2:1 on your bet, regardless if you win the hand or not. However, this only applies when the sevens have NOT been split. I know that there are 6 dealer up cards in basic strategy that allow splitting sevens and 7 that do not, so the player should have an edge in this particular situation. But what are the odds of being dealt 3 sevens in blackjack in the first place? And if dealt 3 sevens, what are the odds they qualify for the 2:1 pay-out rule, based on a 4 to 6 decks, dealer stands on soft 17 basic strategy chart? Hope you can figure this one out for me. Keep up the good work!

Stan from The Netherlands, Europe

I show that rule is worth 0.026% to the player. Despite the incentive to hit 7,7 against a dealer 2-7, the player should still follow basic strategy and split.

Last night I played a hand where three players all hit sets on the flop. Luckily for me I had AA against QQ and 22. What is the probability that three players hit sets on the flop? Cheers

Gareth H. from Auckland, NZ

The probability of three different ranks in the flop is combin(13,3)×43/combin(52,3) = 0.828235. There are combin(10,3)=120 ways you can choose three players out of ten. Of the three, the probability the first will have a set is 3×combin(3,2)/combin(49,2) = 0.007653061. The probability the second will have a set is 2×combin(3,2)/combin(47,2) = 0.005550416. The probability the third will have a set is combin(3,2)/combin(45,2) = 0.003030303. Take the product of all this and the probability is 0.828235 × 120 × 0.007653061 × 0.005550416 × 0.003030303 = 0.00001279, or 1 in 78,166.

Why isn’t "Thou shalt not cheat" in your 10 Commandments of Gambling? Your definition of Proper Gambling Etiquette doesn’t seem to include that definition.

Kevin from San Diego, CA

You’re right. That should be in there, and close to the top. I’ll add that in and add the commandment about tipping to the one about etiquette.

Foxwoods casino had progressive slots that I played. The Jackpot was well over $225,000 and when I went back to play 2 days later, all of the Progressive Slots were removed and replaced with Video Slots. When I went to the casino's web site, I did not see anyone listed as winning this Jackpot. I wrote to the Casino and never got a satisfactory response - very evasive to my questions. I therefore wrote to the DA's office and a State Senator as to my concerns. Basically, I was told that they had no control and that it was up to the Tribunal Commission -- they could do what they want. I’m sure this is not fair to all those who played these slot machines. Are there any Industry rules on this? Thanks

Norman Cote from Nashua NH

Here in Nevada the casino would have to roll the progressive jackpot into another game, per Nevada Gaming Control Board regulation 5.110.5(c). If there is any such policy at Foxwoods I am unaware of it. If Foxwoods would like to express their version in this forum I would be happy to accept their statement.

At Caribbean Stud at Sycuan Casino (San Diego CA), 2 people both almost had straight flushes. The pit said that they would SPLIT 10% of the pot instead of each receiving 10% or the 2nd straight flush receiving 10% after the first straight flush received his 10%. Is that the correct way to pay off? If two people get full houses, they each receive the same amount out of the progressive jackpot so I would like to know what happens when there are two straight flushes. Thank you.

Judith from Chula Vista

I don’t think that is fair, but I have heard of other casinos following that rule. The way I think the rule should be followed, and the way most casinos do it, is one player receives the full 10% of the jackpot, and the other 10% of whatever they reseed the jackpot to. Most casinos reseed the jackpot at $10,000. This begs the question, which player should get 10% of the full jackpot? Some argue the player to the dealer’s right would get it, because his hand is adjudicated first. Others argue the player to the dealer’s left, because he received his hand first. I have received passionate e-mails both ways. I tend to side with those who say the player to the dealer’s left would be paid first. It may depend on what the table games manager decides to do at the particular casino.

Do all card counting strategies tell you the same information? For example, if you had 7 counters playing on a table, one each playing +/-, Red 7, KO, Hi Opt, Silver Fox, Wong Halves and Zen, would they all be raising their bets at the same time? Or do the different systems consider different things to be advantageous to the player? Thanks

Jeff from Shelton

If different counters were using different count strategies at the same table the bet amounts would be highly correlated. Most of the time they would all bet big or all bet small. The close to neutral counts may see some diversity. When the bet sizes are different, the counters with the more difficult, and thus more efficient, strategies are probably right. There is a good table at Casino Verite on the index numbers and efficiency of various popular card counting strategies.

As a dealer, I can help with the Three Card Poker positioning of the toke bet question. A smart dealer will position the bet between the pair plus and ante spots and then can take advantage of either bet winning. Shhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell on me.

Anonymous from Niagara Falls

Don’t worry, I won’t give your name.

Due to the ridiculous legislation passed an few months back, it has obviously become more and more difficult to deposit money into my online poker accounts, including Bodog. :) Without aiding and abetting, could you possibly share with your readers some creative ways to overcome this obstacle or at least provide a list of the known still active deposit sites. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Ed H. from Indianapolis

My webmaster, Michael Bluejay, addresses this very subject in our January 31, 2007 newsletter. To expand on the Visa cards, another friend suggested using prepaid Visa cards, which can be purchased at some banks and at Walgreens.

Sir! There is a private game variation of blackjack played with a Spanish-style 40-card deck with no 8s, 9s & pip tens. Where can one get or what would be the basic strategies for those games? This game is played in Finland, usually played with a bottle of spirits and one’s personal knife close at hand. Thank you for your time!

Vankka K. from Vantaa, Finland

First the dealer wins ties and now this. Finland has got to be the world leader for unusual and lousy blackjack rules. Here is your basic strategy.

Assuming six decks, no dealer hole card, dealer stands on soft 17, no surrender, double after split allowed, and resplitting aces allowed, I get a house edge of 1.86%.