Table Games - FAQ
Bob from Hooksett, New Hampsire
I haven't studied card clumping, but in my opinion it is not a legitimate advantage play. I have never known a professional gambler or writer I respect to give card clumping any respect.
Steve from Detroit, USA
Generally, no, the odds do not change depending on the number of players. The only exception I can think of is side bets like Fortune in Pai Gow Poker, which feature an envy bonus, and thus pay better according to the number of players.
John from Monsey, USA
No. If you’re interested in comparing expected loses it would be better to use the house edge. My section on the house edge shows the blackjack house edge to be 0.43% (Atlantic City rules) and that of Caribbean Stud Poker to be 5.22%. The expected loss for 1 hand of Caribbean Stud Poker at a $5 ante is $5 * 5.22% = 26.10 cents. The expected loss for 6.7 hands of blackjack at $15 per initial bet is 6.7 * $15 * 0.43% = 43.22 cents. So given these two options you will lose less in Caribbean Stud Poker. The ratio of the house edge of Caribbean Stud Poker to blackjack is about 12. So the expected loss of a $1 initial Caribbean Stud Poker bet is about the same as a $12 initial blackjack bet.
Jeff from Chicago, IL
Although they are hard to compare I say blackjack is the better bet. It is easy to be a good blackjack player by learning the basic strategy. It is difficult to be a good poker player. Casino poker rooms are often full of very good players just waiting for an inexperienced player to fleece. However some people may be naturally gifted at poker, so take my answer with a grain of salt.
Dave from Port St. Lucie
For the person with no casino gambling experience who puts an emphasis on something easy to play I would start with baccarat. Just bet on the banker every time.
Alastair from London, UK
I’d recommend craps or baccarat. In craps stick to the line bets and the odds. In baccarat bet on the banker every 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.
Pai gow poker is the least volatile and on average keno is the most.
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)?
Thanks for the kind words. You are far from the only person to be confused about this. The reason is you are comparing the house advantage to the hold. The house advantage is the percentage you will lose on average of each dollar bet. The hold is the ratio of money the casino wins to chips purchased. This is going to be much higher than the house edge because in table games players circulate through the same chips for a while. So that baccarat figure is saying that of all the money dropped in the box in baccarat the casino won 19.62% and gave the players back the other 80.38%. Meanwhile the nickel slot figure is saying that of the total amount bet the casino kept 7.89% and gave players back 92.11%. To make a long answer short you are comparing apples and oranges.
Thanks. As good as my site it I would doubt if 1 gambler in 1000 has visited it. So the vast majority of players don’t know what a good bet Catch a Wave is, if played correctly.
Thanks. Considering both odds of winning and bankroll preservation I think the choice comes down to blackjack (which favors winning) and pai gow poker (which favors bankroll preservation). If you can find a $5 table in either game I would go with blackjack. If the minimums are $10 then I would go with pai gow poker.
I have some questions on tipping etiquette...
Blackjack: Can I double, split or take insurance for the dealer?
Caribbean Stud Poker: Can I (or do I have to) raise also for the dealer?
Let It Ride Poker: Can I place more than one bet for the dealer (what happens if I decide to take back one of my bets and there was a tip)?
Craps: Can I play a tip everywhere I can play (odds and props included)?
Roulette: Can I play on numbers for him?
As a general rule, you can make any bet for the dealer in any game. In general you should tell the dealer which bets are his, except blackjack where its common practice that any bet outside the betting circle is for the dealer.
Blackjack: Yes to all three. The usual way to bet for the dealer in blackjack is to put the tip on the edge of the betting circle. If you split or double most people also split or double the dealer’s bet, although it is not required.
Caribbean Stud Poker: I asked a dealer and he said raising for the dealer is optional. I haven't studied it but I think this would result in the tip having an advantage.
Let it Ride: I'm told that the player should put out three tips initially but must pull them back in the same manner that they pull back their own bets. Bets that are pulled back go to the player, not the dealer.
Craps: Yes, you can make any bet for the dealer. The most common ones are the yo-11 and the hard ways. If you make a line bet for the dealers and back it up with the odds it is implied the odds are a tip too.
Roulette: As in craps you can make any bet for the dealer. Just tell them in advance.
First get a player card, the same kind that go in the slot machines, from the Player’s Club desk. Then when you sit down at a table game take out your player card and give it to the dealer when you buy chips. The dealer will hopefully alert the pit boss that you have a player card and he will start to rate you based on your average bet, length of play, and sometimes your skill level.
The rule of thumb when it comes to comps is that the casinos give back some percentage, usually one-third. So if your goal is to get the room with as little expected loss as possible then whatever game offers the lowest house edge is what you should play. You will probably earn that room faster and with less bankroll volatility playing pai gow or pai gow poker. However the house edge is higher so your expected loss will be greater than in blackjack. In my opinion you should play whatever you would play if there were no comps at all. Then consider comps as icing on the cake.
The casinos like to corral their bettors according to how much they bet. One reason for this is the higher limit tables have fewer players so the big bettors get in more hands per hour. Another reason is that it is said players like to be around other players of similar bet size. If a player wanted to bet $1000 at a $5 table it might make other $5 players at that table feel nervous or uncomfortable. A third reason is it is a preventative measure against cheating.
Yes. I have never heard of a player being refused to use one.
I’ve seen this happen before and I agree that some dealers like it. However in my opinion most don’t care because tips are pooled and shared among all the dealers. In 18 years of playing blackjack I have only once seen a dealer ask a player to do this.
[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.]
Truly top games like Three Card Poker can get up to $1,500 to $2,000 per month, from what I hear. I don't know exactly how much Webb made but whatever it was he had to spend a lot of it on lawyers fees defending the game. There is an article about Webb and Three Card Poker in the August 2004 issue of Playboy.
The following tables show the number of hands/tosses per hour in blackjack, craps, and roulette. The source of the tables is Casino Operations Management by Jim Kilby.
Hands per Hour in Blackjack
|Players||Hands per hour|
Rolls per Hour in Craps
|Players||Rolls per hour|
In craps 29.6% of total rolls are come out rolls, on average.
Spins per Hour in Roulette
|Players||Spins per hour|
I have thought about that many times but always shoot down the idea because it would be very high maintenance to keep it up to date. I do know they have full pay 1/4/6/30/40 pay table on the Pairplus in Three Card Poker at the Pioneer in Laughlin. At least they did when I was last there a few months ago. As far as I know every casino in Vegas follows the stingier 1/3/6/30/40 pay table.
Carol from Reno
I asked Barney Vinson, author of Ask Barney: An Insider’s Guide to Las Vegas this question. He speculated it is a carry-over from the days of illegal gambling, but had no idea why the illegal tables used green felt. This is just a theory but I believe it is because pool table felt is usually green. The makers of gambling tables probably found green felt in the greatest supply because of the abundance of pool tables. However that begs the question, why do pool tables use green felt? I did some searching and found this explanation:
"The History of billiards is long and very rich. The game has been played by kings and commoners, presidents, mental patients, ladies, gentlemen, and hustlers alike. It evolved from a lawn game similar to the croquet played some-time during the 15th century in Northern Europe and probably in France. Play moved indoors to a wooden table with green cloth to simulate grass, and a simple border was placed around the edges." - Dolly’s Pro Shop
You are subject to tax for any gambling winnings. However table games players are basically on the honor system. An exception that a W2G form is generated if a win is 300 for 1 or more odds and is over $600. That is usually only an issue with progressive jackpots. Also, if there is a cash transaction of $10,000 or over the casino is obligated to fill out a CTR, which stands for Cash Transaction Report. Yet these are nothing to worry about, and I think many big bettors are overly paranoid about them.
Dean M. from Toronto, Ontario
Interestingly, the Casino Royale here in Vegas has zero legitimate blackjack games. I believe they have four Blackjack Switch games and one 6 to 5 game. They still have craps and roulette.
Mike H. from New Jersey
Generally speaking, you want to put it on a long shot. This is because you don’t get to keep the coupon on a win, which lowers the value by the probability of winning. The less the probability of winning the less the value is reduced. Following are three tables for the three games listed. You’ll see the best bet is a tie between the 12, 30, 60, triple, and any triple in sic bo.
Free Bet Coupon Value in Baccarat
Free Bet Coupon Value in Big Six
Free Bet Coupon Value in Sic Bo
Ben from Durham
Thanks for the kind words. The three games where you can get the house edge under 0.5% are blackjack, craps, and video poker. Of the three I would recommend blackjack. I would start betting $10 a hand. By playing conservatively at the beginning you won’t go bust too soon and have to beg your friends for a loan. Let’s say you want to double your bankroll or go bust trying, then press your bets as you get close to the end of your trip. Be sure to memorize the basic strategy before you play and don’t accept anything more than a 0.4% house edge.
Thayer from Atlanta, GA
Thanks. The ratio of 6 to 5 games will only go up, in my prediction. You could ask the same question about lots of games. Why do people play 8/5 jacks or better video poker when a 9/6 game is across the aisle? Why do people play double zero roulette when the same casino has single zero? Why do people bet more than the minimum on the pass line, but then don’t take full odds in craps? Granted, sometimes game limits are an issue but you see people betting large amounts foolishly all the time. My own guess is that it is easier to believe in luck and superstition than to do a little reading about the odds.
"What luck for rulers, that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler
Dennis from Henderson, NV
Two suppliers of gaming tables I am aware of are TCS John Huxley and Midwest Game Supply. They probably do sell to the public. The price of a craps table at Midwest Game Supply is $3,950. If a used one will suffice, the Gambler's General Store sells used tables.
Terry from Corpus Christi
I asked this question of “Brain”, a casino manager. Here is what he said.
Table minimums are basically the price point at which we can "sell" the games. These fluctuate based on the clientele in-house, hotel occupancy, individual customer needs, etc. We use a 10X multiple for our maximum to protect us from large betting swings or counters.
We will get complaints from guests such as: Why don’t you lower this blackjack table to a $5 minimum? They don’t understand that one $10 player is worth more to the casino than two $5 players. Or that one $25 player is worth more than three $10 players.
Most casinos monitor capacity by counting the number of players periodically (e.g., every hour) and comparing it to the number of spots available. This is tricky because there is an actual capacity (total number of spots on a table) and what I consider a comfortable capacity, which is how many people can comfortably sit at a table. Unless there are no options available, most people prefer to play at a table with one or two open spots so they have room to stretch out and aren’t rubbing elbows.
Based on capacity, at any time during the evening we may lower or raise our table limits.
My personal philosophy is to have lower limit tables near the entrances and high traffic areas to give the appearance that we are busier. I rarely raise a minimum on a table in play, but may lower it. If I do raise a minimum, I always "grandfather" the seated players in.
Brian didn’t get into the ratio of the maximum to the minimum bet but a similar question was asked before. I asked an executive with a major Las Vegas casino about it at the time and he said they like to corral their big bettors into the high limit areas.
Cliff from Aiea
In the U.S., any gambling winnings of any kind and any amount are taxable. However, with table games, it is on the honor system to report.
Linda from San Jose
Yes and no. Those games usually have a banker advantage, so if you took it at every opportunity, you would have a long-term advantage. However, there are agreements among the casinos and banking organizations not to let ordinary players do this excessively, as if it were a business, as opposed to recreational gambling.
Ron from State College
This is true of all table games, not just craps. The policy against coloring up, except when leaving, comes down from management, so don’t blame the dealers. A good dealer is supposed to keep the player well armed with chips at the level he is betting. Coloring up goes against this purpose. It will lead to chip shortages, causing the player to ask to break down the big chips, which wastes time. There may also be an unstated purpose that the player will be unlikely to bet the big chip.
Las Vegas casinos are surprisingly risk averse; they don’t like taking big bets. For customers off the street, the biggest bet a nice casino will take is usually $150,000 in baccarat, on player or banker. In other traditional table games, the limit is usually $10,000. Limits can be raised upon request by known customers.
This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.
With this subject, I would like to try and quantify skill in backgammon. For consideration, take two good players but one of them is just 1% better (consider this as fact and exact figure) than the other. So, statistically, out of 1000 match games player A should win 505 and player B should win 495.
I have a double question:
- What is the minimum amount of match games that player A should play against player B to be 90% sure to come out as a winner on overall ?
- What is the minimum amount of match games, where a match is the first player to win five games, that player A should play against player B to be 99% sure to come out as a winner on overall ?
Story behind this is that many backgammon players (including me) seem to have no idea what "long run" really means. It is just generally agreed that the better player will overcome the luck factor and will win in the long run. OK, but when the level is that close ?
I would see this 1% like a biased coin flip but really don't know the answers.
I'm going to ignore the doubling cube and assume every game results in a simple win or loss.
That said, if every game counted as one point, it would take 16,221 games to ensure you had a 90% chance of winning more than half of them, assuming a 50.5% chance of winning each game.
At a 50.5% probability of winning each game, I show a 51.23% chance of winning a match. You would need to play 8,853 matches to have a 90% probability of winning more than half of them.
These answers can be found using either the binomial distribution or the Gaussian curve approximation.
This question is raised and discussed in my forum at Wizard of Vegas.
Vital Vegas has taken a player to task for tipping only $200 on a $1.1 million jackpot. What is the appropriate etiquette for tipping in such a situation?
Yes, while they chastise the player for the small tip, they conveniently dodge the question on what an appropriate tip should be.
Not only is tipping etiquette not well defined for big jackpots, it isn't even well defined for small ones. Opinions range all over the place, many of them by people who have never won a jackpot.
First, let me emphasize that tipping is not optional. It is expected to tip in a casino for the service you receive, according to the amount won and level of service. It is easy to become Mr. Pink at this point and rationalize why they shouldn't tip for anything. Tipping is definitely a flawed system, but it is the system we have. If you don't agree and refuse to tip, then don't ask for whatever service it is expected to tip for.
Second, once it's established the player should tip for jackpot, how much? I am limiting this discussion for the kind of situation where the player hits just one jackpot. Rules are different if the player hits lots of them, which is normal at very high bet levels. Remember, the rules to go through the jackpot paperwork are:
- Win of $1,200 or more on "slots".
- Win of $1,500 or more in keno.
- Win of $5,000 or more in a a poker tournament.
- Win of $600 or more AND at least 300x the wager in table games.
What do I recommend tipping? In the past I have said 0.5% to 2% of the jackpot, the greater the jackpot, the lower the percentage. However, I wasn't thinking of jackpots this big at the time. That range I think is appropriate up to about $100,000.
This question has caused me to create a specific formula, which I think is appropriate for any jackpot from $1200 to into the millions. Here it is:
If you can't see the image, it is 2×sqrt(jackpot-$1100).
Here is what the formula gives for some common jackpot amounts.
Suggested Tip Table
In the case of $1.1 million, my formula suggests $2,096.57. I think it is fine to round down to $2,000. Of course, also consider other factors such as the quality of the service.
This question is raised and discussed in my forum at Wizard of Vegas.