# General - FAQ

Losing the original bet is not necessarily bad. If they returned it they would just depress the paybacks to recoup the money. If the odds are expressed as "to one," then you get your original bet back if you win. If they are expressed as "for one," then you don't.

Loser pays: One could say it is an even-money bet, with a $1 refundable fee if you win. So, only the losers end up paying the fee.

Winner pays: A fair even-money bet would win $11 for an $11 bet. However, if the bet wins, the winner gets only $10. The missing dollar could be viewed as a commission or fee.

Personally, I view it as both pay in the form of a 4.54% house edge, assuming a 50% probability of winning.

I seem to recall an article that stated that by placing two bets on the same roll in craps that I could cut down the house odds to the minimum. I'm not going to win big, but I won't lose big either. I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but I'm a boring guy. I figure my wife and I can side up the table, separately, and in effect cancel out each other, one will win big, the other will lose big. If we each bring a big enough roll, maybe we can stretch it out into a couple of hours of play. I think the bets were Pass & Don't Pass.

Your priority to minimize potential losses, yet still play, is not unusual. Personally, I would find a place with low minimums where you can feel comfortable with and play a low volatility game with a low house edge. Two slow games with lots of pushes are pai gow poker and pai gow (tiles). You may not have the patience to learn tiles, so my perscription is to take up pai gow poker.

The question on the dice influence is a hotly debated topic. Personally, I'm very skeptical. As I review this reply in 2013 I still have yet to see convincing evidence anybody can influence enough to have an advantage.

"For those who sometimes lose too much and later regret their actions some self-constraints may be in order. I would suggest setting a specific loss point in these cases, for example $200. Personally I don’t set such limits on myself. If I’ve lost too much it won’t be fun any more and I’ll step away for that reason."

But for you, what does "too much" mean? On every other web page of your wonderful site, you warn against using gut feelings. But when it comes to losing, you say you stop when it doesn’t feel good. Especially with video poker, I set a bankroll size, and I stop when I lose that. Losing always sucks, whether it’s 1 credit or 300 credits.

Great site! I’m a devoted fan who only bets on games with a small house edge.

I was surprised to find on the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s website, that the statewide casino win percentage for baccarat in 2003 was 19.62% and for mini baccarat, the casinos kept 13.81%. Why such a difference if the two games have the same house edge? By comparison, nickel slots (considered to have a lousy house edge) kept only 7.89% statewide! Why would slot machines (with a high house edge) keep less money than table games (with a low house edge)?

p.s. In December 2004 another reader wrote with another explanation. According to inspirationline.com the term originates from a restaurant named Chumley’s at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. It started as a warning to leave the building because the police were coming and evolved to mean to get rid of something.

- Try starting with a stack of 6 chips instead of 10. Even those lacking any dexterity (like me) will have an easier time getting the feel of it.
- It is much harder to practice on a hard table. One cannot as easily get one’s fingers underneath the stack as on a felt table. If you don’t have access to a casino table (other than in the casino itself), practice on something soft, such as a mousepad or even a folded newspaper.
- Warm-up your hands before shuffling (especially if you are new at it). Shuffling puts your fingers in an odd position. It takes a while for them to get use to it.
- Learn to use both hands. It becomes much tougher when using your weaker hand, but it makes you look twice as intimidating when you show your fellow players that you are good with either hand.

Thanks again for the great site!

[Bluejay adds: I always ask dealers which method they prefer, because some have a distinct preference. Some like the chip riding on top while others hate it. I like giving dealers the option, because just by asking I establish a small bond with them by showing that I’m considering their feelings.]

I think those who like gambling find it exciting and a safe way to get an adrenaline rush, much like riding a roller coaster. For the knowledgeable gambler the entertainment can actually be cheap. Although gambling feels like a job to me now I played recreational basic strategy blackjack for about a year before I went onto card counting. Playing $5 a hand under Atlantic City rules at a full table the expected loss per hour is only 2 cents per hand or about $1.20 per hour. That isn’t much to pay for the entertainment and free drinks. So those who play the better games and play them well could certainly make an argument that it is a small price to pay for entertainment.

Some people, like you, don’t see what is entertaining about gambling at all. That makes sense, since not everyone likes every form of entertainment. Just because some people like baseball doesn’t mean everyone will.

As for compulsive gambling, psychologists say compulsive gamblers fall into two groups: those who do it to it for the action and those who do it to escape reality. The action seekers tend to be men and gravitate towards the table games. The escapists tend to be women and gravitate towards slots and video poker. So that is my two cents. Keep in mind the only psychology I have studied was one semester in high school, 20 years ago (hard to believe it has been that long).

P.S. Your site is terrific and thanks for restarting the "Ask the Wizard" feature.

^{67}. If you did a perfect shuffle, in which last card was the first to come down, thus remaining last, it would only take 8 shuffles to be back to the starting order. If the 26th card was the first two come down then it would take 72 shuffles to back to the starting order.

Actually, drawing lots wasn’t their first idea for deciding who got Jesus’ robe. First they were going to draw a horse, but they didn’t have the right color crayons. So they each decided to draw whatever they wanted, and one drew Carey while another drew Barrymore. But the judging became an apples-to-oranges kind of comparison so they settled on drawing lots. Of course, everyone likes lots because lots means plentiful. You always see signs that say "Lots for Sale", but you never see a sign that says "Only a Little Bit for Sale". When you think about it, that place "Big Lots" is kind of redundant. It’s like saying "Abundant Abundance". But if companies can get away with saying "Pizza Pizza" (or agar agar) then I guess there’s no problem. Anyway, to answer your question, lots were first used for gambling in Cow Bingo. You know, it’s the game where a cow is placed on a lot marked off in a grid and people bet on which grid square the cow will poop in. The most famous use of lots in gambling is their role as the first part of the LOTtery.

(groan) Now that that’s over with, I asked my friend and bible expert, Tom R. the "Watchman on the Wall", about this. He quoted various bible dictionaries. The bottom line is that lots were not used for gambling but to choose a name randomly. This was accomplished by writing one name each on pieces of wood or stone, putting them in a bottle, and shaking just one out.

- Free Food & Beverage
- Free Lodging
- One of those high roller suites
- Free golf at Wynn
- A new car
- Free airfare.

"What luck for rulers, that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler

However, for practical purposes, there is some stopping point. This is because the happiness money brings is not proportional to the amount. While it is commonly accepted that more money brings more happiness, the richer you get, the less happiness each additional dollar brings you.

I believe a good way to answer this question is to apply the Kelly Criterion to the problem. According to Kelly, the player should make every decision with the goal of maximizing the expected log of his bankroll after the wager. To cut to the end of this (I cut out a lot of math), the player should keep doubling until the wager amount exceeds 96.5948% of his total wealth. Wealth should be defined as the sum of the amount won plus whatever money the player had before he made the first wager. For example, if the player had $100,000 to start with, he should keep doubling up to 23 times, to a win of $4,194,304. At that point the player’s total wealth will be $4,294,304. He will be asked to wager 4,194,304/4,294,304 = 96.67% of his total wealth, which is greater than the 96.5948% stopping point, so he should quit.

The casino would not know that someone was in the country illegally. If he had a valid passport, the jackpot would be honored. The illegal may not know this, be scared or they may not have a valid ID to show. Whenever someone wins $1,200 or more, ID is required for tax purposes. If someone doesn’t have his ID, the jackpot would be held in the cage waiting for them to claim it. In most cases, the person has legitimately forgotten their ID; however, sometimes you run into a problem, such as a minor who was gaming. If he doesn’t claim it, the money has to be added back into revenue because the deduction (jackpot) was never paid or there are abandoned property rules that prevail. Also, like the U.S., most countries tax worldwide income. To that end, the U.S. has tax treaties with several countries to withhold or notify the respective governments of monies won in the U.S. so Uncle Sam always gets his cut.

N = log(1 - DC)/ log(1 - p), where

DC = Degree of certainty that an event will appear

P = probability of the event

N = number of trials

^{b})=b×log(a). It is not worthy of any special term. I suppose the formula might be helpful in answering some questions about the probability of a succession of losses. For example, suppose a video poker player wants to know how many hands he would have to play, such that the probability of a royal drought is exactly 5%. The probability of a royal per hand in 9/6 Jacks or Better, with optimal strategy, is 0.00002476. The degree of certainty that at least one royal will appear is 95%. So, the number of hands in a 5% royal drought would be log(1-.95)/log(1-0.00002476) = 120,989.

However, you don’t need to use that formula to solve that problem. It could be set up as:

.05 = (1-0.00002476) ^{n}

n

log(.05) = n × log(1-.00002476)

-1.301 = n × -0.000010753

n = 120,989

I’m aware of Australia’s love of pokies. When I was at a gambling conference in Sydney, I had the pleasure of listening to your Nick Xenophon chastising the audience for making such an addictive product. Personally, I favor mandating that machines be labeled with the return percentage that they are expected to pay.

Here in the U.S., we would say "math teacher," or "knowledge of math," by the way.

In evaluating mathematical expressions you use the following order of priority:

- Parenthesis (what is inside them)
- Exponents
- Multiplication and division (equal priority)
- Addition and subtraction (equal priority)

After this narrowing down, if you have terms of equal priority, then you go left to right. So, in this case we evaluate the parenthesis first, resulting in 48/2 × 12. Division and multiplication are equal in priority, so we do the division first, because it is furthest left. That gives us 24 × 12=288.

I have to go on record as saying that while I feel that 288 is the right answer, the syntax of the expression is terrible. It never hurts to put in extra parenthesis or brackets for clarification. I would have expressed this as (48/2) × (9+3).

This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.

I have to admit my initial answer to this question, in my forum, was wrong. There are 14 different calendars only, seven for each day of the week the year starts on, by two for whether or not there is a leap day. I incorrectly thought that there would be a 2800-year balanced cycle. However, that is not the case.

Before going further, let's review the leap year rules:

- Years evenly divisible by four are leap years, except...
- Years evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, except...
- Years evenly divisible by 400 are leap years.

If it were not for the third rule there would be a nice 700-year cycle. However, the 400-year rule breaks the 700-year balanced pattern, and starts it over from the starting point. So there is a 400-year cycle, but it isn't balanced. The following table shows how often the 13th of each month falls on each day of the week in a cycle.

### 13th of the Monthby Day of the Week

Day | Total |
---|---|

Sunday | 687 |

Monday | 685 |

Tuesday | 685 |

Wednesday | 687 |

Thursday | 684 |

Friday | 688 |

Saturday | 684 |

Total | 4,800 |

The average number in a cycle is 685.71. However, Friday exceeds the average at 688. So, every 400 years we get 2.29 extra Friday the 13ths.

This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.

That is unusual. Said casino probably has no clue what they are doing. For the benefit of other readers, let me review what a match play chip is. These are chips that you match with real money when making a bet. If you win, you are paid on both, and your real money wager is returned. If you lose, you lose both. Nothing happens on a push.

So a match play chip may be used only once on a resolved bet. If the casino allows you to use it on any bet, the proper strategy is to put it on a long-shot bet. This is because the cost of not getting the match play back after a win is a lot less on a long-shot bet than an even-money wager.

The following table shows various bets in three different games and the expected number of units won. For the purposes of the table, it is assumed if the player gets a tie he keeps repeating the same bet until it is resolved. You can see the highest expected value is on a single-number bet in roulette at 87% of face value.

### Match Play Expected Value

Game | Bet | Pays | Probability | Return |
---|---|---|---|---|

Baccarat | Banker | 1.9 | 0.506825 | 0.469792 |

Baccarat | Player | 2 | 0.493175 | 0.479526 |

Baccarat | Tie | 16 | 0.095156 | 0.617651 |

Craps | Pass | 2 | 0.492929 | 0.478788 |

Craps | Don't pass | 2 | 0.492987 | 0.478961 |

Craps | Easy hop | 30 | 0.055556 | 0.722222 |

Craps | hard hop | 60 | 0.027778 | 0.694444 |

Roulette | 18 numbers | 2 | 0.473684 | 0.421053 |

Roulette | 12 numbers | 4 | 0.315789 | 0.578947 |

Roulette | Six numbers | 10 | 0.157895 | 0.736842 |

Roulette | Four numbers | 16 | 0.105263 | 0.789474 |

Roulette | Two numbers | 34 | 0.052632 | 0.842105 |

Roulette | Single number | 70 | 0.026316 | 0.868421 |

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. The purpose of it is to equate an interest rate with possible points and compounded monthly to an APY (annual percentage yield), which is an interest rate with no points and compounded annually.

For those who don't know, when you take out a mortgage, the bank often charges a finance fee based on the amount of the mortgage. For each point, the borrower must pay 1% of the mortgage amount to the bank as an additional fee. Sometimes this fee is tacked on to the principal amount.

The APR interest rate is hypothetical. If the borrower negotiated with the lender to increase the interest rate, in exchange for no points, and compound interest annually, then the APR interest rate would result in exactly the same payment. Let's look at an example.

Suppose the borrower wants a loan of $250,000. The bank charges 5.625% interest, compounded monthly, with two points, based on a 30-year mortgage. What would be the APR? The finance fee is 2% of $250,000, which equals $5,000. The borrower then asks the bank to add that to the principal, for a loan of $255,000. I won't get into the monthly payment calculation, so take it on faith that it comes to $1,467.92.

Assuming there were no points, an interest were compounded annually, what interest rate would equate to the same monthly payment of $1,467.92 on a loan of $250,000? By trial and error I find an interest rate of 5.9635% and no points and compounded annually results in the same monthly payment of $1,467.92. So, a way to phrase this would be, "A 30-year fixed loan at 5.625% interest with two points has an APR of 5.9635%."

I don't know. What I think I can correctly say is the earliest casino game patent for a game played today is for Caribbean Stud Poker. There probably were other patents before it for games that didn't make it. The Caribbean Stud patent was filed on April 18, 1988 and issued on June 6, 1989. Patent number 4,836,553.

Not that you asked, but at that time casino game patents were valid for 17 years from date of issue, or 20 years from date of filing, whichever was more. In 1995 the term was extended to 20 years from date of filing. In the case of Caribbean Stud, the patent would have expired in 2008. However, I think it still has valid trademarks, meaning a casino could offer the game without paying royalties, but would have to think of another name that is not trademarked.

This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.

The following table shows how many bets are required, assuming the same bet amount, for the casino to be confident, at various levels of confidence, for some common games. For example, to have a 95% chance of showing a net profit on the Banker bet in baccarat, the casino would need to deal 20,791 hands.

This is based on the Normal Distribution in all cases except for Jacks or Better. That approximation becomes untrustworthy if the number of expected events of any one outcome is five or less. So, for video poker, I used the Poisson distribution for the royals and the Normal approximation otherwise.

For blackjack, the rules are: 6 decks, dealer stands on soft 17, double after split allowed, surrender allowed, re-splitting aces allowed.

This question is raised and discussed in my forum at Wizard of Vegas.

- $2,000 cash
- $4,000 non-negotiable chips
- $6,000 non-negotiable chips
- $8,000 cash
- $10,000 cash

What would you choose and why?

That said, the average bag is worth $5,960. That is almost 20% more than the cash offer. Even looking at it as a utility of money problem, you should still take a bag, even if you have no other wealth.

This question was asked and discussed in my forum at Wizard of Vegas.

According to BookMaker, the Washington Post, who keep a count political false statements in general, would be used as the source of number of lies. According to that source, Trump averaged 15 false statement per day during 2018. The next question to be answered in analyzing this bet is how much time does Trump spend making public statements a day? Between tweets, interviews, and off-the-cuff statements, 20 minutes seems like a reasonable estimate to me. A nice round number at least. Simple division gives us 15/20 = 0.75 false statements per minute, or one every 80 seconds.

The address was estimated to last six to eight minutes by the media before it started. Let's split the difference and go with seven minutes. Seven minutes at 0.75 false statements a minute gives us an estimated 5.25 false statements. So, I would have set the over/under at 5.5.

By the way, if we assume 5.25 to be the mean number of false statements, then the probability of three or less false statements is 23.17%, if we assume the total is distributed according to the Poisson distribution, which I think is a reasonable assumption.

By the way, in the end, the number of false statements was scored at six.

This question is asked and discussed in the very long thread on Trump at Wizard of Vegas, but discussion of this specific topic starts here.

As measured by square feet of gambling space, here they are. This comes as a surprise to me, as I've barely heard of the two Oklahoma casinos in the top five.

### Top Five U.S. Casinos

Casino | Location | Square Feet |
---|---|---|

Winstar | Thackerville, OK | 519,000 |

Mohegan Sun | Uncasville, Connecticut | 364,000 |

Foxwoods | Mashantucket, CT | 344,000 |

San Manuel | Highland CA | 220,000 |

Riverwind | Norman OK | 216,000 |

It depends on the rules of the game and how well you play it. Limiting the answer to popular games, assuming you play the optimal strategy and stick to all the best bets when given a choice, I’d narrow down the best games to the four in the following list. (The percentage shown is the element of risk of those games, which is the ratio of how much you can expect to lose to how much you bet, which I think is a proper measurement of the value of a game.)

- blackjack (six decks, dealer stands on soft 17, double after split allowed, surrender allowed, re-splitting aces allowed) — 0.25%
- craps (3-4-5x odds, laying the maximum odds allowed) — 0.27%
- video poker (9-6 jacks or better) — 0.46%
- Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em — 0.53%

My answer would be whichever game has the lowest element of risk at whatever casino I'm in. However, the answer to the question about which game I find the most fun to play is pai gow (tiles). I dislike volatility and tiles offers a slow game with lots of pushes. It’s also a challenging game to understand and play well. I find that other players are generally smart people and pleasant to play with.

The following puzzle appeared in the March 6, 2021 New York Times.

The rules are pretty simple:

- Each row, column and region must have exactly two stars.
- No two stars may touch, not even diagonally.

Can you help with a solution?

This is called a Two not Touch puzzle. The button below shows my answer and solution.

Here is my solution (PDF).