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Ask the Wizard #28

I have never gambled on-line, but I would suppose that since you play the games from your computer, with no one watching, it would be a lot easier to do things like card counting or even using a computer to make your decisions. Is this true? Do on-line casinos have any way to check if you're cheating? Also, do you have a time limit to play each hand?

Gonzalo from Mexico City, Mexico

Yes, you can easily count cards when playing blackjack online. However, most casinos shuffle after every hand. For those that don't, software exists to tell you the exact correct play given any deck composition. However, such places generally have strict rules against card counters.

As long as you aren't playing at a multi-player table or live dealer, there is no time limit to play a hand.

What is the better system, or which gives me the better chance to win on craps? On the come out roll, I bet $10 on the don’t and $10 on the do, and then when a point comes out I lay full odds against the number. Or is it better to just play the don’t pass, and then lay the odds. I think getting passed the come out roll will increase my chances of winning.

Ray from Plainfield, USA

The better system is to bet on the don't pass only and take full odds. Yes, betting on both does increase you chances of winning on any one bet. However you are suffering a higher combined house edge by betting on both the pass and don't pass and it will cost you in the long run.

A quick question about online comp programs: The Sands casino offers a variety of comps for wagering at their casino. Is there a way of figuring out how much money I would need to bring to the table to wager $7,500? For arguments sake, assume I am playing perfect blackjack.

Steve from New York, USA

The answer depends on how much you are willing to bet in each hand and how high you are willing to allow the probability of losing the entire bankroll. To answer this question properly would require quite a bit of work. There is no easy formula that I know of to get at the answer. Simulations would probably be required.

However, you shouldn't need much to roll through $7,500. If you bring $1,000 and make $25 bets you'll have 40 units to work with, and you'll have met the wagering requirement after 300 bets. The probability of ruin would be pretty low. If forced, I'd guess about 5 to 10%.

I'm a floor supervisor at a local casino and was wondering about a strange play. A player was betting both the pass and don't pass at the same time. My question is if he was betting the do side for $10, I would give him an average bet of $10. Now that he is betting both sides, and probably not risking any funds, what would the average bet be? I know if this patron bet both the red and black on roulette, he should get an average bet of both bets on red and black, since the house advantage of 5.26% make both bets a loser over the long run.

Ray from Plainfield, USA

Show me a player making opposite, or near opposite, bets and I'll show you a player up to something. He is probably trying to take advantage of a promotion or comps. If I ran a casino, I would give credit only for money being risked. One could argue he is risking $10, because a 12 will cause the pass to win and the don't pass to push. However, that will happen 1 in 36 pass line bets only. If I ran a casino, I would give him an average bet of $0.

You have the optimum strategy for jacks or better video poker for a particular pay table. I practiced for a few hours on your play for fun program - I'm ready to try the real thing - got a royal flush after about 500 hands (down about $350). I'm afraid to learn this strategy if Casino Niagara doesn't have the same pay table. Do you have an optimum strategy for "all" pay tables? (I assume there is a significant difference). Does your play-for-fun simulate the "real world"? Why do you assume the maximum coins bet? Does the pay table change?

George from Clarence, USA

I doubt that Casino Niagara would have the "full pay" pay table that my Java game is based on. With little competition they can be stingy and people will still play. I'm afraid I don't have any strategies available for other pay tables. I suspect Casino Niagara offers 8/5 jacks or better, which pays 8 for a full house and 5 for a flush. Assuming perfect strategy, this has a return of 97.30%. Using perfect strategy for full pay video poker, as found on my site, on this game the return would be 97.29%. The two strategies are almost the same and you are only giving up 0.01% by using my strategy on an 8/5 machine. Also, I assume maximum coins bet because that is what the player should do. If you play less than maximum coins you will only get 250 per coin on a royal flush, causing a reduction in the rate of return of 1.36%.

I want to know the best blackjack strategy card for Gamblingsoftware. The Wizards of Odds page doesn't carry a table for this software, but the Java-based games here are becoming increasingly popular.

Nevin from Philippines

You can correctly use the Cryptologic basic strategy to play at a GamblingSoftware.com casino.

Suppose I were to stroll into a casino and place a bet on 2 of the 2-1 payoffs in roulette, such as $100 on 1-12 and $100 on 13-24. In a one time deal, aren't my odds of taking home $100 a generous 63%? I'm not talking about the long run; just a one-time bet.

Andrew C. from San Diego, USA

You're right the chances of winning are 24/38, or about 63%. However you have to risk $200 to only win $100. If you want to increase your chances of winning even more then bet on any 35 numbers. The probability of winning will be 92%.

How often can you roll a pair of dice 28 times without getting a 7? How do you figure this? Congratulation on your site, it’s great.

Arturo G. from Mexico City, Mexico

Thanks for the compliment. I take it you mean what is the probability of rolling a pair of dice 28 times without getting a 7. The probability of not rolling a 7 on any one roll is 5/6. The probability of not rolling a 7 in 28 rolls is (5/6)28 = 0.006066, or about 1 in 165.

Should you leave your odds ’off’ or turn them ’on’ for a new pass line roll?

K from Louisville, USA

You should leave them on. It is best to have as much on the odds as possible. Turning the odds off is like temporarily removing the odds bet.

Are all junket companies the same? The Grand Casino (a Park Place Entertainment holding) referred us to the Casino Connections junket firm based on our play. If we want to visit other casinos and let them pick up the airfare, et. al., how do we find the junket firm that serves the venue we want to visit and contact/convince them to take us on?

Malcolm from Atlanta, USA

This is getting outside my area of expertise. When I was in college I went on almost free junket flights from Santa Barbara to Reno and had to be a minimum $5 player only. However, I rarely see advertisements for junkets any longer by airplane. I would suggest calling the casino host of a casino you like and prearranging a deal. However, I think you need to be a black chip player to get free hotel and airfare reimbursed.

Please tell me where I can find a copy that I can print and carry in my purse on the odds for blackjack. I am just learning and I am not sure when to take a hit and when to stay.

Sue from Marquette, USA

One idea is to right click on one of my strategy charts, save the image, and then print it. Some casino gift shops sell basic strategy charts the size of a business card. However, these charts have at least one mistake about half the time.

What can you tell me about Lasseters Online Casino? Have you or will you review it? I didn't see it in your list of online casinos.

Dennis from Lawton, USA

The only thing I know about Lasseters is that they are from Australia, and based on a presentation they did at an industry convention earlier this year, they are serious about setting a good example in the business. When I choose which casinos to try I give a priority to ones that advertise on my site or that have bonus incentives for the new player. Lasseters doesn't meet either or these criteria.

As a dealer from Canada, I work at a casino that does not deal the hole card. I have never worked at a casino before this but have played at a lot of them. This is first one here in Canada that I have seen do this. Is this better for the players? Also is there much difference in basic strategy between the two? We use a six-deck shoe and hit on soft 17.

Jesse from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

I just commented on this in my last newsletter. Two weeks ago I was playing blackjack in Germany where they also do not take a hole card. In this event the player loses the total bet if the dealer gets a blackjack, including the additional money bet after doubling or splitting. Basic strategy changes are to hit 11 against a 10, hit two 8's against a 10 or ace, and hit two aces against an ace.

Which casinos pay 3 to 1 odds on a field bet of 12?

Daniel from Geneseo, USA

Most casinos in Las Vegas do, except those owned by Caesars Entertainment (formerly known as Harrah's). In Reno and Lake Tahoe they pay 2-1 on the 12, but 3-1 on the 2.

I recently won a VERY LARGE jackpot on an on-line casino, and immediately cashed out. The casino is now claiming that it will take them about three weeks to "audit" my account before they will process the payment. Once they begin processing the payment, it will take 5 to 10 business days before they send the funds to me. They will not pay more than $4,000 per week. Further, they are charging me $15 per $1,000 to perform a wire transfer to my bank account. Or, if I elect, they will charge $10 per $1,000 to mail me a check, which they claim takes 2 to 6 weeks to process. If I wish I can pay an additional $35 per check (remember checks are no greater than $4,000) to have the check FedEx'd to me. They never had much difficulty taking money from my credit card accounts. I am wondering if this is standard fare for on-line casinos... and if there is anyway around these delays and exorbitant charges?

Mike from California

I figured this was a Microgaming casino based on the fees for a payment. This is news to me so I called three Microgaming casinos to ask about it. The River Belle said they pay any jackpot in its entirety up front. The Golden Palace did as you describe, paying $4000 per week. The English Harbour pays $5000 per week. You have a legitimate complaint about paying the service fee on every payment, as well as the show payment processing time. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to change it. As I have said before, there is almost no regulation of most online casinos so they can do whatever they want.