Ask The Wizard #97

Many senior managers in casinos today have an educational background similar to yourself rather than coming up through the gaming floor. I was just wondering if, with your interest in gaming you had ever considered going to the dark side and making a move into casino management.


I’m tired of professional gamblers referring to those who work in or for casinos as the "dark side." Casinos provide thousands of jobs across the country, revenue to government, and a source of entertainment to millions. I don’t remember the source but I read that something like 90% of visitors to Las Vegas leave with a gambling loss, yet 95% leave happy. The other side is quick to argue that casinos contribute to the problem of compulsive gambling. Yes, there are some compulsive gamblers who abuse what should be done in moderation. However I believe that the majority should not be denied the opportunity to place a bet because of the problems of a minority. In other words I believe that the benefits that come from legalized gambling far exceed the costs.

I fully admit I consult for casinos and gaming businesses. I have to because this site doesn’t make enough money to support my family. My bankroll is not large enough to make a living as a professional gambler. However I make no apologies for what I do. To answer your question, yes, if the right offer came along I would consider employment in casino management.

If the dealer does not check for blackjack with a ten showing, instead taking only the original wager at the end of the hand, does that necessitate any strategy changes?


No. As long as you stand to lose only the original wager you should play assuming the dealer does not have a blackjack. If the dealer does have blackjack there is nothing you can do about it anyway.

You have a very good site but I think it puts too much of a priority on minimizing the house edge and not enough on minimizing volatility. Don’t you think the player is trying to minimize both? Perhaps you should put more of an emphasis on bankroll longevity.


While you may like a low-volatility game the next guy may like a high-volatility game. I do indicate the standard deviation of most games here but that is about as far as I care to go with this angle. I believe the gambler should pick his game partially according to its volatility but once playing always play by the proper strategy and never hedge your bets.

You make a good mathematical argument that the player should refuse insurance. However you don’t make a good psychological argument. Most people would feel like a fool giving up a bird in the hand to lose a shot at 1.5 birds in the bush.


Oy. Gambling is about taking risks. The successful gambler does not try to maximize his probability of a net win each hand but takes risks to maximize his overall return. Both in gambling and in life one must sometimes take short term risks for long term gain. So think less about the present and more about the future.

Have you ever received any dumb questions?


Don’t get me started.

If you had to pick one video poker game to practice on line,(so you knew how to play when in Vegas), what would it be?


Everything you need is right here!

There is my video poker game to play, which will correct you when you make mistakes.

There is my hand analyzer to analyze how to play any hand.

There is my game return calculator to determine the return of any game and pay table.

Finally, there is my strategy maker to create a strategy for any game.

Note: This answer was updated Nov. 13, 2013.

Why does your Blackjack Switch basic strategy table say to always hit on 12?


The player should be more aggressive hitting in Blackjack Switch because a dealer 22 results in a push. Much of the value in standing in regular blackjack is realized when the dealer busts. In Blackjack Switch many of those wins are turned into a push, making hitting a better play in comparison.

Do you believe the toss of the dice at a Casino Craps table is truly random as a RNG would be, or are there good shooters and bad shooters either thru dice "mechanics" or plain sloppy throwing (short throws as an example), if real world Casino Craps is not truly random , how would I take advantage of this?


I think there is no such thing as a naturally bad shooter. With the possible exception of a few pros all dice throws can be considered truly random. There are seminars on how to overcome the house edge in craps by precession throwing but I make no claims for or against them. I have yet to see enough evidence either way.

In response your last column from a player who was concerned about the dealer calling "table max" when he went from $15 to $300. It should be added to your answer that this is most likely the internal procedure of the casino as most do this when any maximum bet is placed in order to draw the supervisor’s attention. Most players tend to believe the actions of a casino are directed against them when the usual reason is simply the staff are following company procedures.


Thanks for this good point. I stand corrected.