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Ask the Wizard #39

Is Binion's Horseshoe the only casino that will let you win millions without being asked to leave? Why would a casino ask someone to leave if they are not cheating? Does a casino ever ask someone to leave the table at a game like roulette where they believe no one can beat it?

Jim from Winona, Minnesota

No casino that had any sense would ask someone to leave just for getting lucky. Most would try hard to keep them from leaving and entice them back once they returned home.

Say, Wizard I was wondering about roulette. With the boss media software, you can spin the wheel without actually placing a bet. Isn't this in the player's favor? With some of the roulette betting systems I have seen, like the Martingale you double up when you lose and such. Can't you just watch the wheel without placing a bet and based on the previous spins place your bet. An example would be to spin the wheel 5 times before placing a bet. Suppose that all the numbers were odd. Wouldn't it make sense to begin playing the wheel by betting on even? I know this kinda buys in to the gambler's fallacy and the wheel doesn't care what the last spin was, but also the probability diminishes with each spin that an odd number will continue to come up. Am I on to something or just going over an old theory?

Craig from Detroit, USA

You're just rehashing the gambler's fallacy. If the ball landed in odd 100 times in a row on a fair wheel the odds that the next spin would be even are still the same as every spin, 47.37% on a double zero wheel. So it does not help that you can spin without betting. The ball does not have a memory.

I notice that some Internet Casinos give you two cards right away one on each hand before you begin to play each hand, unlike a live casino which play the split, one hand at a time. Is this a house advantage dealing two cards before beginning play on the split hands?

Karter from Calgary, Canada

Mathematically speaking, it doesn't make any difference.

If I play 100 hands of blackjack at $5 a hand at an 0.5% house edge how much can I lose and still be above three standard deviations south of expectation?

Blair from Christchurch, New Zealand

Your expected loss would be 100*$5*.005=$2.50. The standard deviation of one hand is 1.17, which can be found in my blackjack appendix 7. So, one standard deviation in your example is $5*1.17*sqr(100)=$58.5. So, the probability of losing $295 or more due to bad luck is .00135 (the Z statistic for -3).

I was playing craps at and bet $20 on the horn and won $60 on a roll of 11. If the horn bet is spread out between 2,3,11,12, shouldn't I have won $75 ($5X15)?


No, you were paid correctly. The 11 does pay 15:1 on the $5 of your bet. However you lost the other $15 on the 2, 3, and 12. So $75-$15=$60. Instead of taking the $15 from your bet, they take it from the winnings.

I noticed in your online review of casinos that you mentioned in Apolla that you played 438 units of blackjack and lost 98. Does this mean you played 438 hands and lost only 98? This is an awfully good ratio in favor of the player.

Peter from Orlando, Florida

I lost 98 units there overall. If every hand was an even money win or a loss then I would have won 170 hands and lost 268.

Where on the Internet can I play Spanish 21 for either fun or real money?

Reana from Fairport, U.S.

All Unified Gaming casinos as well as Global Player offer Spanish 21. Unified Gaming stands on a soft 17 and thus has the lower house edge.

2013 Update: Unified Gaming software has since disappeared. As far as I know, nobody offers Spanish 21 online any longer.

As a card counter, what are the odds to make it as a professional blackjack player? What do we have to do?

T&M from Philadelphia, U.S.

First, it takes a lot of time to learn the theory and strategy of card counting and get your counting speed up to casino play. You will also need a large bankroll of at least $50,000, but preferably $100,000. To make a decent living you have to be comfortable with a bet spread of at least $25-$300 and it takes a large bankroll to sustain the ups and downs. For most people, I think it is better to play part time.

If the first card dealt is an ace what is the probability the dealer will have a blackjack? Assume two decks.

T from Las Vegas, U.S.

There are 103 cards remaining in the two decks and 32 are tens. So the probability of a blackjack is 32/103=31.07%.

I will be visiting Reno in the near future and have frequented your site in regards to Let It Ride and craps. I seem to have more luck at LIR than Craps. What effect does the number of players at LIR have on the probability of winning, if any?

Kevin from Lorain, USA

Assuming you are not peeking at any other player's cards, it doesn't make any difference. Have a good time in Reno.

This is a question regarding fixed odds betting. If you say that the odds are 4 to 1 on something happening, then is that equivalent to saying the probability is 1 in 4 i.e. 0.25? If you consistently bet on 4 to 1 shots would you simply break even over time? Therefore could you not beat fixed odds betting by doubling up after every loss since you would expect a winner every fourth bet?

Calvin from Long Beach, USA

If the odds against something are 4 to 1 then there are 4 chances it won't happen and one chance that it will. So, in this example, the probability would be 1/5. It doesn't matter what the probability is, if the events are independent then the past does not matter.