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Ask the Wizard #211
Craig from Los Angeles
No. I had to Google this to find out what this is. This appears to me to be an amusing urban legend about some young scientists who developed a winning craps system. The story is told at Quatloos. I would file this under other fictional stories that have become mistaken for fact, like Joshua’s missing day. As I have said hundreds of times, not only can betting systems not beat games like craps, they can’t even dent the house edge.
Eino Karu from Lago Vista, Tx
I think neither of you is right. It is correct that when you put in more than $2,000, you were implying you were raising the pot. The minimum raise should have been $1,400, for a total bet of $3,400, contrary to the table ruling. This is because the last bet of $2,000 was a $600 call and $1,400 raise. Your bet was only a $1,000 raise. So, you needed to put in another $400, or muck your hand. (source)
T.P. from Medford, NJ
The standard deviation per hand in blackjack is 1.15 under Vegas Strip rules (source). This can vary, depending on the rules, but since you didn’t state them, we’ll go with 1.15. So, the standard deviation of 30 hands would be sqrt(30) × 1.15 = 6.30. I don’t know what their blackjack rules are, but let’s assume a house edge of 0.4%. So in 30 bets, you would expect to lose 30 × 0.004 = 0.12 units. Your losses exceeded expectations by 21.5-0.12 = 21.38 units. That is 21.38/6.3 = 3.39 standard deviations south of expectations. The probability of that is 0.000349, or 1 in 2862. I’m afraid this doesn’t rise to the level to make any kind of accusations. If you still suspect something fishy, I would gather a larger sample size.
Al from Melbourne, Australia
Sadly, ignorance can go pretty high up the ladder. I don’t dispute that an expert can clock the wheel on a very slow spin. However, that issue aside, changing dealers does not change the odds. There is no such thing as a lucky or an unlucky dealer. Superstition is a difficult thing to let go of. As I have said many times, the more ridiculous a belief is, the more tenaciously it tends to be held.
Jonathan from Ft. Lauderdale
Thanks for the kind words. Scratch cards and pull tabs can indeed be printed in batches. These batches will have a specified number for each win, and the return of the overall batch will be exactly as the maker intended. In some jurisdictions, where only pull tabs are legal, the outcome can be displayed to the player on a video monitor, in the form of a slot or video poker machine. However, in Nevada, that is not how slots work. Each play is completely independent of the past. A machine programmed to average a 97% return, could indeed pay under 95% or over 99% over a year, especially if not heavily played.