Ask The Wizard #66

Most online casinos offer bonus offers but do not allow wagers on games like roulette, craps and baccarat to be part of the necessary wagering requirements. I am wondering about the exact reason for this. They usually state that no risk wagering is not allowed and a player’s account would be audited before any payout so it wouldn’t make sense to do this anyway. Are they trying to stop players playing games which offer close to even money options then? It seems to me unfair to stop new players to a casino playing such popular games such as these after offering a bonus.

Also you answered a previous question about player abuse by saying you should play 100% more than the minimum requirement to cash out the bonus. As I see it if the casino lays down the rules for minimum wagering then that is all that is required by the player and if he can wager 8x the bonus without losing it then he deserves to be able to cash it out without being labeled a player abuser! Thanks for your time Wizard.

Chris from Palmerston north, New Zealand

The reason they do this is that before they implemented this rule some players would bet equal amounts on red and black in roulette, or the pass and don't pass in craps. This would allow them to earn a bonus without putting much money at risk. So the online casinos added this rule in an effort to keep these bonus players out. Casino on Net does allow play on any game but reserves the right to refuse the bonus if the player bets on opposites, which I think is a more reasonable solution.

You are absolutely right that a casino should honor a bonus even if the player bets exactly the player requirement and not $1 more. Unfortunately many Internet casinos owners don't think they have to abide by their own rules and make them and break them as they go. Two years ago the Golden Palace rounded up all the players they considered to be not be giving enough free play and locked them out of their accounts. I know this because I had one of the accounts. After a lengthy audit they reopened some accounts but seized the funds of others and donated them to charity. This was despite the fact that the players followed every rule. It just goes to show that there is no credible regulation of Internet gambling and that appearances are very important. That is why I advise players to not even look like they are only after a bonus and to provide plenty of extra play.

After reviewing your section on house edge in craps, I am very confused about two different calculations. The discrepancy lies with the Place 5 or 9 and Buy 5 or 9. I cannot understand how the house edge could be greater on the Buy 5 or 9 when it pays more than the Place 5 or 9. For example, $100 Place 5 or 9 pays $140. $100 Buy 5 or 9 pays $150 - $5 commission for a total of $145. The house edge on a Place 5 or 9 is 4.00% and a Buy 5 or 9 is 4.76%. How could the Buy 5 or 9 house edge be greater than the Place 5 or 9 when it pays more money and both bets have the same behavior? Thank you for your time.


You seem to be forgetting that the 5% commission is taken off the top and the player doesn’t get it back if he wins (except some casinos give it back on a buy 4 or 10 bet). A $100 place bet on 5 will get back $100+$100*(7/5) =$240 if it wins. If you bet $100 on the buy 5 the 5% commission will reduce the bet to $95.24. If the bet wins the player will get back $95.24+$95.24*(3/2) = $238.10. The place 5 bet returns an extra $1.90.

My co-worker D. insists that he has perfected a way to consistently win at Roulette. I’m not convinced. Is he just lucky or is there any system that works?

Tom from Merrit Island, USA

He is just lucky. As I have said thousands of times, no betting system can pass the test of time.

Since a $2.50 blackjack pays $4 (extra .25) and since a blackjack occurs every 22 or so hands, I was wondering (at a $1 table) if it would be possible to beat the game (albeit very slowly) by just playing $2.50 each hand?

Rob from Niagara Falls, New York

Actually a blackjack will occur closer to once every 21 hands. To be more specific in a six-deck game the probability of a blackjack is 2*(4/13)*(24/311) = 0.047489. An extra quarter this often is worth 0.25* 0.047489 = 0.011872. Divided by the $2.50 bet this adds 0.004749 to the player’s expected value. Most games where the dealer stands on a soft 17 or uses 1 or 2 decks will have a house edge less than this. So, yes, you could gain a small edge. Assuming six decks and dealer stands on soft 17 the player’s expected profit per hour, based on 100 hands per hour, would be 16 cents.

I like to use your blackjack appendix 3 to fine tune my play in online single deck blackjack. I see you have updated this page in December, and it seems like there are a few new moves in the 2-card section. I don’t understand the advice to hit a 10 & 2 against a 4, and particularly against a 6 when the dealer is so likely to bust. And can it really be right to hit these, but not 10 & 2 against a 5?! I’d appreciate any insight you can shed on this. Is the key that the dealer can have an A in the hole with the 6? Hmm, that’s plausible. Are these new strategies, and if so, what brought them about?

Rich from Londerry, New Hampshire

Yes, I made a couple changes to the two-card list. I removed 9+3 Vs 3 and added 10+2 Vs 6. In a single deck game where the dealer stands on soft 17 and the player has 10+2 against a dealer 6 the expected value of hitting is -0.159436 and for standing is -0.160379. So you lose less on average by hitting. I hate to give sound bite answers to the basic strategy because there are numerous ways the cards can play out. The dealer’s probability of busting is greater with the 6. However as you said the dealer is also more likely to get a 17 with a 6 showing than a 5. A 17 is not a good hand and motivates the player to hit and try to beat it.

In Three Card Poker which is the better bet, the Pairplus or the Ante & Play?

Mark from Jacksonville, Florida

I asked this very question on one of my homework assignments for my casino math class at UNLV. Although the house edge is generally higher on the Ante & Play it is also the better bet. The reason is that it has a lower element of risk, in other words the ratio of expected loss to the total amount bet.