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Ask the Wizard #24

I liked your article about the cancellation betting system. What sort of a cancellation system would you follow if instead of betting on either black or red, you placed a bet (of the same amount) on two of the three blocks that cover 12 numbers (e.g: 1 to 12 & 25 to 36) on each roll?


Start the same way as I explained with even money bets. Each bet should be the sum of the left and right numbers. However, following your two column strategy you should add double the amount to the right if you lose.

Your Spanish 21 basic strategy at your web site gives the opposite tables for dealer hitting soft 21 and standing on soft 21 from those given in Casino Player September edition. Casino Player magazine gives table 1 for dealer hitting a soft 17 and table 2 for standing. Your web site gives the opposite charts. Which is correct? Also, hard 17 vs. dealer ace says surrender on first 2 cards, otherwise hit. Do you hit hard 17 vs. ace?

Rod from Newburgh, USA

Casino Player reversed the two charts in their layout. I'm very embarrassed by this mistake. Yes, you should hit a hard 17 against an ace if you can't surrender.

Where did you get your odds software for seven-card stud?

Ron from Orlando, U.S.

I wrote a program in C++ to test all combin(52,7)=133,784,560 ways to arrange 7 cards out of 52. For each one I formed all combin(7,5)=21 ways to arrange 5 out of 7. Then I scored each one of these hands. The highest score of the 21 ways was the value of the seven-card hand. So, overall, I had to score over 2.8 billion hands, this took the computer all night, if I remember correctly.

Is there a way casinos can change the odds of a standard video poker. For example, can the game be programmed to allow certain cards to be duplicated to create a lower probability outcome or are the odds the same for every poker game and casinos just change the payout table to lower the payout.

James from U.S.

There is a strict regulation in Nevada that each card must have the same probability of being dealt. Most other legitimate jurisdictions also follow this rule. However, not every jurisdiction is entirely legitimate. Casinos can legally change the odds by changing the pay table.

First off, great web site! I love it! In Reno I saw a game with the following rules: six decks, dealer hits soft 17, double after a split, re-split anything except aces, and the player could double on any number of cards. For example, the player could draw to a four-card total of 11 and then double. What is the house edge on this game?

Andrew from Solovay

You didn't state the surrender rule, so I'll assume it isn't allowed. According to my blackjack house edge calculator, and before considering the double any number of cards rule, the house edge is 0.64%. According to my list of rule variations, being allowed to double on any number of cards (a rule commonly found in Panama) is worth 0.23%. So, the house edge over the overall game is 0.64% - 0.23% = 0.41%.