Ask the Wizard #19
Jack from Desoto, Texas
Every betting system based on a negative-expectation game like craps is doomed to eventual failure. By tripling your bets, you will have bigger single wins, but you will reach your bankroll limit faster and have more losses. It all averages out to the house edge in the long run.
Ted F. from Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Thanks for the kind words. No, I don't think that wishful thinking helps in the casino, all other things being equal.
The question on the dice influence is a hotly debated topic. Personally, I'm very skeptical. As I review this reply in 2013 I still have yet to see convincing evidence anybody can influence enough to have an advantage.
Rod from Newburgh, Indiana
Good question. Yes, this house edge is definitely low enough to consider card counting. Since most card counters don’t even consider Spanish 21 I think the field is ripe to exploit the game and to do so with a great deal of impunity. However counting may not be as effective in Spanish 21 as regular blackjack. A small card rich deck will benefit the player in more multiple card 21’s. To the best of my knowledge nobody has developed index numbers for Spanish 21 but somebody should. Maybe I will.
Jack Z. from Olympia, Washington
I’m confident with that figure. It was determined using a random simulation program of mine. I speculate the creators of the software made a mistake and only intended to offer late surrender on tens and aces, as was the case with the preceding version. I called one online casino that uses Unified Gaming and they were not even aware the new software allowed for early surrender on aces. I give the house edge figures as a service to my visitors. (Update Jan 22, 2005: Unified Gaming changed the rules of their game years ago to remove the player advantage)
Rod from Newburgh, USA
To answer your first question, yes, the house advantage can be reduced by sneaking peaks at other cards. For example if you have an ace/king hand it should make you more inclined to raise if you see another player matching the dealer’s up card. In the book Finding the Edge Peter Griffin and John M. Gwynn Jr. address the question of player collusion in Caribbean stud poker. Assuming perfect knowledge of all other cards, and having perfect knowledge of how this information affects the odds, their paper states the player would have a 2.3% edge in a seven-player game. In a six-player game, the house would have an edge of 0.4%.
Bob P. from Lake Charles, Louisiana
I could talk about this all day. Part of my income is derived from analyzing games such as these. The gaming authorities require such analysis before a game can be licensed to play. Usually, these games are invented by an individual. Here in Nevada, after the game owner receives a license, then it must go through a 30-day trial period. If the trial period went well, then the owner can then apply for a permanent license. The entire process is very slow and it is difficult to get a casino to be the guinea pig for the trial period. Casinos are actually quite risk averse in their business decisions. Yes, the game owner will usually seek a copyright to protect others from stealing the idea.
You can find much more information about the business of marketing casino table games in my Game Inventors Corner.