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Ask the Wizard #202

What rights do the casinos have to refuse to honor their own chips? The reason I ask is a friend of mine asked me to cash in some large-denomination chips for him, and the casino refused, saying I had no history of play there. When I protested, they said they would honor them if I could prove a legitimate player gave them to me to cash. Do they really have the right to do this?

Pete from Bakersfield

Not only do they have that right, that is what they are supposed to do. According to Nevada gaming regulation 12.060.4:

A licensee shall not redeem its chips or tokens if presented by a person the licensee knows or reasonably should know is not a patron of its gaming establishment... .

Regardless of whose hands they are in, chips are legally the property of the casino (Reg. 12.060.1), although they must be promptly redeemed from legitimate patrons (Reg. 12.060.2c).

My advice is to avoid cashing in large amounts of chips at a property where you have no experience. The fancier the casino, the more it will take to get questioned. However, if forced to estimate, I would say that at most Strip properties, you will start to get questioned around $3,000.

If you are still stuck with large chips at a property where you have no play, then my advice is to make some play. Don't take them directly to the cashier, but break them down at the tables, play a while commensurate with your buy-in, and then cash out whatever you are left with from that sitting.

What is the house edge of the “anything but seven” strategy in craps? Under this strategy, after a point is rolled, the player bets the field and places the 5, 6, and 8, unless the point is already one of those numbers. Also, what is the house edge of the “anything but the point” strategy, in which the player does the same thing after a don’t pass bet?

Jason from Murrieta

According to my calculations, the “anything but the point” strategy will have a loss of 0.11988 units per pass bet resolved. The expected amount bet, counting only resolved bets, is 5.09865 units. So, defining the house edge as the ratio of expected loss to total bets resolved, it is 2.351%. Under the “anything but the point” strategy, the house edge is 9.19394/5.09865 = 2.341%, which includes the push on 12 as a resolved bet.

What is the probability of an NFL game ending in a tie?

Lee from Los Angeles

From the 1983 to 2007 seasons, there were 10 ties over 5,901 regular season games played. Rules dictate that a game can not end in a tie in the post-season. So that would make the probability, based on historical games, 0.17%, or about 1 in 590.

What would be the house edge of a pass and don’t pass bet after a point is established?

A.B. from Zion, IL

After a pass bet, on a point of 4 or 10, the house edge swings to 33.33%. On a 5 or 9, it is 20%, and on a 6 or 8, it is 9.09%. The player has these same advantages on a don’t pass bet, once a point has been established.

What software (purchased or downloaded) would you recommend for some one who wants to practice Blackjack & Craps on a computer (closest to a real game), but cannot go online to play (work computer)?

Michael from Clinton Township

For purposes of recreational playing, it seems that every store that sells computer software games have a few with various casino games, often in the bargain bin. I’ve tried some of them and find them all to be pretty bad. The Internet casinos do a much better job. Sorry, but I can’t recommend anything.

What are the odds if you draw three cards out of a deck that exactly one of them will be a spade?

Bill from Tempe

The probability the first card is a spade, and the second two are not, is (13/52)×(39/51)×(38/50) = 14.53%. You should then multiply that by 3, because the spade could be any one of the three cards. So the answer is 3×14.53% = 43.59%. For those who prefer the combinatorial function, the answer is 13×combin(39,2)/combin(52,3) = 9,633/22,100 = 43.59%.

On your site you show the difference in house advantage for Three Card Poker with the Mini-Royal payout on the Pair Plus bet. At a local Casino here in Arizona the Mini-Royal plays on the Ante Bonus instead of the Pair Plus. The Ante Bonus pays as follows, 3 of a kind 6 to 1, straight flush 8 to 1, mini royal 50 to 1. What is the change in House Advantage on the Ante and Play with this pay table? Thanks,

Jesse from Scottsdale

I’ve never seen that before; thanks for the information. The house edge on the ante bet, with those ante bonuses, is 4.75%.

I think I noticed an error in your splitting strategy with a back-betting player for blackjack. It states that you should only play one hand if the person you are back-betting splits 10s vs. 8 (this is the selfish chart). But a hard 10 (no double) vs. 8 still has a positive expected value.

Mason from D.C.

The reason is that my table assumes the front-player will keep resplitting, if he can. That depresses the value of a single 10, because I assume the front-player will keep making the same mistake, if he can. I just added that condition to that page.