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Ask the Wizard #58

This is an excellent site very interesting and informative. When going through the list of plays in deuces wild video poker I didn’t understand what is meant by a penalty card. Would you please explain.

Steve from Parma, Ohio

Thanks for the compliment. I just rewrote my explanation of penalty cards. In my opinion beginning players should not use a strategy that considers penalty cards. However for those who must play near perfectly here is my explanation, "A penalty card is a potentially useful discarded card. For example if the player had 3 to a royal and 4 to a flush the correct play is to keep three to the royal, discarding the fourth suited card. The discarded suited card would be called a flush penalty card because it could have been used to complete a flush. By discarding it the players odds of forming a flush are "penalized." Sometimes penalty cards can affect borderline plays. For example if the player had a suited 10 and king, with no other cards of that suit, nor a 9, jack, queen, or ace, then the player should keep the two to a royal flush. However this is only marginally better than discarding everything. If the player had just one suited card, or any card that could be used to complete a straight, then the odds of forming a flush or straight would be depressed, lowering the overall expected return below that of discarding everything. So in that situation the player should be mindful of the effect of penalty cards."

I have read everything you have to say about roulette, but see nothing about roulette spinners. Under the watchful eye of the pit boss the roulette spinner throws "sections" to improve the odds of the house. The spinner that can throw greens, not every time but with good percentages of time, maybe one out of 7 or 8 when he wants to wipe out a large progressive better.

"Anonymous" .

Casinos don’t need to resort to such tactics to win. Furthermore casinos have nothing to fear from progressive bettors. Most of the time progressive bettors win, but the few that hit their bankroll limits pay for all the winners and then some more for the casino. Furthermore it would take a great deal of skill to deliberately spin a ball into a specific section. I don’t believe it can be done with any marked degree of accuracy.

In your bingo section you specify the probabilities of getting bingo in a particular round, but what is the expected number of drawn numbers before someone gets bingo?

"Anonymous" .

Following is the expected number of calls before somebody gets a bingo according to the number of players.

1 player: 41.37
10 players: 25.51
50 players: 18.28
100 players: 15.88
200 players: 13.82
500 players: 11.56
1000 players: 10.13

You seem to know a lot about on-line casinos. I’m curious if the winnings are taxable income. I have tried the IRS site and they do not specifically mention off-shore or on-line gambling.

Dan from East Troy, USA

Yes, they are taxable. You are on the honor system to report the income. The casinos will not report any winnings to the IRS. It isn’t just on-line casinos, ANY net gambling winnings are taxable, regardless of where or how they were won.

What is the probability of rolling a "pair" when tossing 4 dice?

Anthony from Toronto, Canada

The pair can be any one of 6 numbers. The other two singletons can be among the other five. So there are 6*combin(5,2)=60 combinations already. There are combin(4,2)=6 combinations of dice on which the pair can appear. The two singletons can be arrange in two ways. So there are 60*12=720 ways to throw a pair. The total number of all ways to throw the dice is 64=1296. So the probability is 720/1296 =~ 55.56%.

I’d like your thoughts on this craps strategy. I think it’s a Patrick system for playing don’t pass. Bet one unit on both pass and don’t pass. Then lays odds on the don’t side. You can stop here or then make a don’t come bet. After the dc travels, take the odds off your don’t pass bet (if you don’t like to lay odds). So now you have a unit on the don’t come that pretty much got there with less risk. I know you can never get the advantage over the house, but this seems like a great way to play the don’t side. You eliminate the sevens on the come out roll. And only get hurt by the 12; or the 11 on your don’t come bet. P.s. Your site is the greatest.

"Anonymous" .

Thanks for the compliment on my site. The best thing I can say about this system is that it composed of low house edge bets. Yes, a 12 will lose the pass bet and push the don’t pass on the come out roll, this is where the house edge is. By making the pass bet you are increasing the overall house edge. If you’re afraid losing you shouldn’t be playing at all. Never hedge your bets. So my advice is to stick to just the don’t pass and laying odds. Yes, you’ll lose some on the come out roll. However if you don’t lose on the come out roll the don’t pass bet will usually win.

Is it possible to count a 6 deck shoe?

Scott from Verona, USA

Yes. If you can count down one deck you can count down six. It is just a matter of counting longer between shuffles.

I play 6 deck blackjack in Tunica, MS. The dealer hits on soft 17. I wonder what the odds are of standing on 16 when the dealer’s upcard is 7. It seems only a 10 or face card can beat this and the odds would be in my favor if the dealer draws more than one card. Also, since most strategies are based on millions of calculations done on a computer, I wonder if those of us who will never play a million hands can rely on slight variations like this one. Is this a poor, fair or bad move to make?

Richard S. from Memphis, USA

According to my blackjack appendix 9H the expected return of standing is -0.476476 and of hitting is -0.408624, assuming the 16 is composed of a 10 and 6. So my hitting you will save 6.79 cents for each dollar bet. This is not even a marginal play. There is no sound bite answer to explain why you should hit. These expected values consider all the numerous ways the hand can play out. The best play for a billion hands is the best play for one hand. If you want to deviate from the basic strategy here are some borderline plays: 12 against 3, 12 against 4, 13 against 2, 16 against 10. Deviating on these hands will cost you much less.

I am a novice, just starting to play. My question concerns the "Five Count Doey/Don’t" System. The way I understand the system:

  1. Wait until the shooter establishes a point.
  2. Play both come/don’t come (same amount). Until you have a maximum of four numbers
  3. After the shooter has rolled five times without rolling a 7, take odds on all your numbers on the front side.

The rationale: Limit your exposure until you find a "qualified" (five rolls without a 7) shooter. Only betting the odds so there is no "house edge"! Can you compare this system with just playing pass/come and taking the odds?

Don from Little Rock, Arkansas

As I stated in the other craps strategy question you are only mixing another house edge bet into the game by betting on both the pass and don’t pass, or come and don’t come. It is also not going to help to wait until a shooter hits five points. The probability of making a point is the same for me and you as it is for somebody who just threw 100 points in a row. In other words, the past does not matter. As I stated to the person who asked the other question (whom I think may also be you) don’t make opposite bets, just stick to either the do or don’t side and always back up your bets with the odds.