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Ask the Wizard #190

Why does the dealer have an advantage in Three Card Poker? First, it is three random cards vs. three random cards. Second, even if the dealer beats you, he has to qualify, so wouldn’t that give YOU the player the advantage? I know, it’s stupid but my brain can’t comprehend.

Chris from Coon Rapids

Much as in blackjack, the dealer has the advantage because he gets to act last. If both the player and dealer in blackjack bust, the player loses. In Three Card Poker, if both the player and dealer have lousy hands, the player will fold first, and lose.

Hi - Great website! I’ve read lots of info here about tipping, but I’m still confused about how to tip for craps in particular. I’ve never played craps (in fact, have rarely played any table games at all) and am trying to get the rules down before my first attempt.

How exactly do I tip at a craps table? There are several people working the table. Do I put down a bet and they all share any winnings? How do I let them know the bet is for them? When, how often, and where should I place this bet? You said something on one of the pages I read about putting out chips "for the dealers" -- do you just randomly toss out some chips and say "for the dealers"? Do you pass them to a specific person? How much do you tip? What if I happen to think that one person at the table has been particularly helpful, while another has been scowling at my inexperience? Can (or should) you tip one more than another? Thanks for any help and for a great website!

Becky from San Antonio

You’re welcome. Thanks for the kind words. In my experience, most players make proposition bets for the dealers. For example, a "two way yo" bet is split 50/50 between the player and dealers. To make this bet, a player will hand or toss the bet to one of the dealers and say "two way yo." However, all the proposition bets are sucker bets, which will cut down the value of the tip by up to 16.7%. As you said, I prefer to give the dealer the tip directly, as opposed to betting it. Before a come out roll I will try to get a dealer’s attention and then put the tip in front of him, saying "for the dealers." I don’t like making pass line tips for the dealers, because I’ve been goaded into tipping extra on the odds, which was more than I intended to offer. If you must make a bet for the dealers, I would put it on the field, saying loudly "dealers in the field."

To answer your second question, dealers are only obligated to share cash tips. Anything else they may keep for themselves. I asked about this at the Venetian and the floorman said dealers may accept personal gifts up to $100 in value. Acceptable gifts can be things with a close to cash value, including gift certificates and unresolved sports tickets. It was quietly added that if a player gave a dealer an envelope, nobody other than the player and dealer would ever have to know what was in it. Should you decide to give a specific dealer a tip I would suggest being discreet about it, putting it in an envelope, and away from the table.

I know you’re skeptical of dice control. I have been practicing dice setting and controlled shooting for 3 months. What is the probability of throwing 78 sevens over 655 throws randomly? Thanks for the help :)

Eric B. from Boston, MA

For large numbers of throws we can use the Gaussian Curve approximation. The expected number of sevens in 655 throws is 655 × (1/6) = 109.1667. The variance is 655 × (1/6) × (5/6) = 90.9722. The standard deviation is sqr(90.9722) = 9.5379. Your 78 sevens is 109.1667 − 78 = 31.1667 less than expectation. This is (31.1667 - 0.5)/9.5379 = 3.22 standard deviations below expectation. The probability of falling 3.22 or more standard deviations south of expectations is 0.000641, or 1 in 1,560. I got this figure in Excel, using the formula, normsdist(-3.22).

Wagerworks has a new game Texas Hold ’Em Shootout and it supposedly features a 100% return. Do you have any thoughts on how to reach this return rate? Thanks for all the strategies and advice. ;)

Rich from Welwyn Garden City

You’re welcome. That is a damn clever game. Basically, the player plays conventional Texas Hold’em against two bots, except there is no betting after the river. In the player’s favor is being last to act. In the casino’s favor is that the two bots are colluding. Basically, the bot with the weaker hand will fold, and the player will be left to play against only the stronger bot. I haven’t analyzed this game yet, so I’m afraid you’re on your own.

In your column #185 there was a question about a private blackjack variation and its basic strategy. Let me kindly inform you that this kind of game can NOT be played in any public places here, it is only some kind of private game. There are only two different public variations of BJ, operated by Raha-automaattiyhdistys ("Finnish slotmachine association" in English), shortly, that can be played here.

The first one, which is played in some night clubs, "Täyspotti" — gaming halls and bars since 1982 has the lousy "dealer wins all ties except 21 and BJ" — rule as you have mentioned before. The second version is the "normal" BJ game and can be played only at the only international casino here, Grand Casino Helsinki (yes, shuffling machines are in use...).

BJ in bars etc:
- European "No hole card" rule is in use
- All cards are dealt face up
- Dealer stands on all 17’s
- Six decks, dealt from the shoe
- Player may only double on hard totals of 9 - 11
- No surrender
- Double down or split is not allowed if player places an insurange bet
- Player can split only once
- No DAS
- Dealer wins all ties except 21-21 and bj-bj
- Player can not be barred if card counting is suspected

BJ at the Casino:
- European "No hole card" rule is in use
- All cards are dealed face up
- Dealer stands on all 17’s
- Six decks
- Player may only double on hard totals of 9 - 11
- No surrender
- Perfect Pairs side bet is available (Paytable B)
- Double after split allowed
- Player can make max three hands by splitting
- Aces can be resplit
- Casino can not bar a player if card counting is suspected

Risto H.

Risto H.

Thank you for this information. It is good to know there is at least one normal blackjack game in Finland.

This is in regards to your answer in the Caribbean Stud question in column #185. It’s my understanding that if two straight flushes are dealt in the same hand, the person to the dealer’s LEFT would be the first one to take 10% of the jackpot total. This is because the person to the dealer’s left was technically the first person to receive the straight flush. The two casinos I’ve worked at have actually paid from left to right on CS in case a scenario like this ever occurs.


Thanks, I stand corrected. I thought I heard somewhere that the first hand to the right would get paid first, because the dealer pays from the right. However your rationale makes sense too.