Ask The Wizard #78

Dear Wizard, I was recently playing blackjack with somewhat of a card-shark who also happens to be my friend. We played casino rules, with one deck- and switched the deal after each time the deck expired. Later, while I was shuffling- I noticed two 9 of spades side by side. My friend obviously claimed he did not know about this, but it seems unlikely. My question is, if you were playing in a similar scenario and were to add one card to the deck, which card would be most advantageous if only you knew about it. Thank you for your time.


From my blackjack appendix 7 we see that each 9 removed from a single deck game increases the house edge by 0.20%. However if you were going to cheat it would be much better to remove an ace, which increases the house edge by 0.58%. If you were to add a card as the dealer you should add a 5, which increases the house edge by 0.80%. So, the best card for the player is the ace and the best for the dealer is the 5.

Are the on line casino baccarat games like a slot machine with the payout set at 98.8% or do they use a random chip? How would you be able to check that out? Wouldn’t it make a difference? Is there a casino you are sure uses a random chip? Thanks.


From what I know of the business the major software companies deal the cards in a fair and random way. I personally have examined the log files of Odds On, Infinite Casino, and IQ Ludorum and found them to be fair. The laws of mathematics state that the more hands are dealt the more the actual return will approach the theoretical return. If you want to prove otherwise I would suggest keeping track of the cards and putting the results through statistical tests. See my blacklist for more about that.

I have been noticing (in Illinois and Indiana) a variation of Caribbean Stud that includes a draw where the dealer qualifies with a pair of 8’s or better. Are you going to have a strategy section on this anytime soon?


You are referring to Caribbean Draw Poker. This one would be a very difficult game to analyze. At this time I have no plans to analyze it but once it reaches a certain saturation point it will be hard to keep putting it off.

I’ve just starting learning the game of craps. In craps, the Don’t Pass is a better bet for the player than the Pass Line bet. But the few times I’ve played in the casinos, most people seem to be betting the Pass Line and not the Don’t pass. I’m either not correct on the odds b/t the two bets or is there some reason most players are taking the Pass Line bet over the Don’t pass line bet?


That is a good question. It is obviously more fun to go with the crowd than against it. The question is why does the crowd favor the pass line? Perhaps it is just tradition. Maybe when people first started playing craps in private games the don’t pass wasn’t even an option.

My wife and I play Aces and Faces in Tunica, MS, on a regular basis. We have used the basic Jacks or Better strategy as indicated on your site. Is this the optimal strategy for this game? If not, can you tell us what the optimal strategy would be on this game? Thanks.

Vance & Ashley Dennis

No! You can get a near optimal strategy for almost any game with Video Poker Strategy Master or Frugal Video Poker.

Hi, I just have a general question. It is about the Poker Table Games. Why is it that almost every casino carries "Let it Ride", "Caribbean Stud Poker", and "3 card poker"? Some of those other Poker games I was reading about on your website sound cool, but they aren’t around at the Atlantic City locations. Is it because the above games are more popular, or just because the casino makes more money on them? Just wondering since Bally’s and Caesars in Atlantic City are testing the Boston 5 Poker game, and I like that game the best so far. i hope they keep it there. It is nice when the dealer doesn’t have to qualify (the reason why I try to avoid Caribbean stud poker) Thanks for your time.


Ultimately the games that you see in the casinos are the ones that make the most money for the casino. For a game to make money the players have to like it. So these games you mention are what players find the most fun. It also helps that they are owned by big gaming companies that have the resources to get them out there in the first place.

What are the odds of getting the same hand as the dealer in Three Card Poker, and how did you got your answer.


The probability is about 1 in 1 in 903.76 but the solution is too involved to explain.

Hi, my friends were playing pai-gow and one of the other players had a royal flush with a 3 and 4, and the house also had a royal flush with a 3 and 4 (so the player lost with a royal flush, poor sucker). I was wondering, what are the chances of this happening? Thank you! I really enjoy your website.


The probability of two specific players ties with a royal flush and any two other cards are about 1 in 290 billion.