The “Don’t Pass” Bet at Craps – Time to Try It!

Recently, I met Tim Lawson at Gamblepalooza (the Foxwoods get-together for gamblers sponsored organized by Cousin Vito’s Podcast and Eric Rosenthol). Tim has authored many podcasts and has initiated a new gambling podcast called “The Bettor Life” 

While there are many gambling & Las Vegas podcasts out there, the community of people creating these entertaining audio continue to bond together, supporting each other.

I find Tim Lawson refreshing.  I find his opinionated and honest approach a breath of fresh air, although not agreeing with everything said.  But, he has raised my interest in his craps play, namely playing the “DON’T PASS” line.

 

Tim likes the “DON’T PASS” bet at the craps table. Most players bet the “PASS LINE BET.”  Usually, betting the “DON’T PASS” bet immediately causes that player to be most unpopular at the table.

To explain, I once again cite Michael Shackelford, The Wizard of Odds: 

“The table seems to have about a hundred different kinds of bets, the players are barking out commands in what seems to be a foreign language, and the pace is too fast to ever ask a question. I can sympathize with the beginner, because at one point in time this was how craps appeared to me.”

“The don’t pass is almost the opposite of the pass line bet. If the come out roll is a 2 or 3 then you win, a 7 or 11 you lose. A 12 is [usually] a push, except in Reno and Lake Tahoe, where a 2 is a push instead of the 12. Otherwise, the dice are rolled over and over until either the point or a 7 is rolled. If the 7 comes first you win, if the point come first you lose. All wins pay even money.

A Don’t Come bet is like a Don’t Pass bet, except made anytime except a Come Out roll.

Courtesy of Gambling.com

A person betting on the don’t pass is called a “wrong” bettor and is usually winning when everyone else is losing, and vise versa. If you make this bet, keep a low profile. The other players do not want to see you yelling “yippy” as they are losing.”

I’m intrigued by this play. If someone as knowledgeable as Tim Lawson will play it, even though the house edge is higher, why shouldn’t I try it?  After all, a lower bankroll could be used  for the beginner – as long as you keep “a low profile.”

No craps table in the world likes the boisterous, bragging “NO PASS” and “NO COME” player. So if you play this way, be cool! But I’m willing to try it.

Thanks Tim, for your podcast and your insight.  If YOU can play the “DON’T PASS,” so can I!

Binbin

What Makes a Good Poker Room?

Twin River Casino Poker Room

Poker Room at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI.

I’m not much of a poker player.  I love home games, dealer’s choice, low limit games – just as long as the most I can lose would be equal to the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. But it’s the casino poker room that we wondered about.

Four New England casinos have poker rooms. By 2019, poker rooms will most likely be offered at MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor. For information about games, tournament, and general info, check out the following links:

Hollywood Poker Room, Bangor ME

Twin River Poker Room, Lincoln RI

Mohegan Sun Poker Room, Uncasville CT

Foxwoods Poker Room, Mashentucket CT

“What makes a good poker room?” It seems it takes a lot of little things and big things combined.  Poker player preferences are as different as the casinos themselves.

One thing I found tis that a consensus on what makes a good poker room was not easily found.  A few basics did pop up often though: the room’s rules should be clear, the dealers should be pleasant. The staff should keep an eye out for cheats and colluders.  That being said, without a lot of experience, I checked out poker forums and asked the question “what makes a good poker room?” However, to quote Paul Harvey, now, “for the rest of the story.”

Concerning the Rake:

First of all, the “rake” is the scaled commission fee taken by a card room operating a poker game. It is generally 2.5 to 10 percent of the pot in each poker hand, up to a predetermined maximum amount.  Obviously, most players prefer a lower rake %.  Low rake is sometimes switched with time charge, especially in the early mornings. Some players actually had decisive limits – 5 percent rake and a $3 maximum per hand, 10 percent with a $4 maximum is the highest that should be charged.

Second, a BBJ, “Bad Beat Jackpot” is also not preferred. What is a “bad beat jackpot”? It’s  when a poker room pays out an amount of money if a very good hand (usually Quad Eights or better) ends up losing to another hand. This “bad beat jackpot” is usually divvied up between all of the players at the table who participated in the hand that was played. In most circumstances, the loser of the hand will receive 50% of the bad beat jackpot, the winner of the hand will receive 25% and the remaining players will split the remaining 25%.  The “bad beat jackpot” accrues over time and grows based on how much rake the poker room is collecting.  The low rake combined with fewer BBJ’s are preferred.

Concerning Comfort:

Mohegan Sun Poker Room

Most players like what everyone in a casino prefers – a comfortable place to play. One player said, “The poker room exists to generate rake and the best way to generate rake is to provide an atmosphere that people enjoy. If I ran a poker room, I wouldn’t be in the “Poker” business, I would be “hosting a party and a party atmosphere” (business)…..Make the poker room fun. Hire/train competent staff because it makes the room more fun and increases your drop.”

But to most, quiet is most conducive to a comfy atmosphere. The room should be clean, good-looking, and well-lit, with nice chairs and cushions, and bathrooms.  Many players admitted they prefer a poker room with space, especially at and between the tables.

When it comes to smoking, most players seem to be changing towards a non-smoking poker room. “I ‘ve played in rooms where smoking is allowed and it’s horrible. Can’t get away from it. Your cloths smell terrible afterwards. A smoker in a no-smoking room can always take a walk to indulge but a non-smoker basically doesn’t enjoy their time playing (especially when Mr. Chimney sits down right next to you).”

Foxwoods Poker Room – Best in New England

Comfort can be a product of the way management enforces good etiquette and nice behavior so that everybody feels comfortable – which brings us to our next consideration, the Management of the Room.

Concerning the Management of a Poker Room:

The first part of what management controls is getting to the table.  almost unanimous was the preference for “…quick to get from waiting list to seated at a table…”

Foxwoods Resort Casino. Waiting for a game.

Every room needs someone on duty 24/7 who knows all the games who knows all the correct rulings, and is accessible to the dealers and the players. Great managers, or “floor-men,” are guys who know when to intervene and guys who know when to let the players handle their own situations.

The sign-up desk should be warm and friendly instead of ignoring its patrons, standing there politely waiting. “Greeting people poorly is a very common problem in poker rooms,” said one response. “If you aren’t a people person, don’t work the sign-up desk. Floor people should also have some people skills instead of having an assertive, officer-like attitude. A friendly person who approaches situations professionally and makes informed decisions will please more people in the long term. Correctness is most important but you can make correct decisions and still be pleasant.”  Which brings us to part four.

The Poker Room Staff

Good dealers are a must, good floor people as well and other support staff like cashiers, chip runners, wait staff etc. Everybody agrees you should have great dealers. But some people think a great dealer tells jokes and gives his sports picks, while others think a great dealer never says a word except what has to be said to call the game. Being a good dealer is not that easy – just think back to your sessions. It must be hard being a dealer for years. Dealing with lots of rude customers really much take its toll. Maintaining a smile night after night of people accusing you of giving them bad cards, etc. has to be emotionally draining.

poker dealer

Here are “good dealer traits” that were mentioned mostly:

  • Most of the dealers have been here at least 4+ years.
  • Good dealers deal a decently paced game
  • Don’t talk too much
  • Know the game left and right
  • Very courteous especially to the losing players.
  • Provide a consistent experience as other dealers (which suggests better training by management)
  • Treats 1-2 (limit) players like 10-20 (limit) players. (i.e., treating all players like they’re important)

Wait staff should represent the positive aspect of the service industry. Visiting players and people on vacation expect polite and fast cocktail service.

Concerning the Games:

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

A lot of tables with a wide mix of games, including stud, seems to be best – games for high rollers, games for low-rollers (one player called them ‘degens‘ as in degenerates, but that’s kinda harsh!), games for hobbyists and games for the low limit players to introduce them to poker, let them learn on and move up in stakes. Good games seems to be the most imports factor, and yet the house has little control. Players who make good games tend to flock to the best run rooms. So, the clientele ultimately plays the most important part of good games. What a revelation!!!

What was lower in considerations and THE FINAL CONCLUSION

Service with a smile.

Can you believe that being treated well was more important in my findings than free food, drinks, and comps? Promotions, and all the amenities were important, but not if the place was a mess, run poorly, and made the players uncomfortable with the game.

So, my conclusion is this:

  1. Management must care and cater for its players
  2. This will attract the best clientele, raising the interest and packing it’s poker room.
  3. If the poker room is packed, then the rake will be small, with tournaments and a variety of games.

Heard this before?  Sure, SERVICE COUNTS. It’s the same old thing we have been saying for years, as we see casinos change to a business first model instead of the service / hospitality model we were used to in years past.  It’s the same for any part of the casino, not just the poker room. Happy players means repeat business of the best kind. Treat players fairly, make them feel like valued customers, and they’ll come back for more.  Simple……….too bad it’s more often a thing of the past….and that’s the rest of the story!

 

Binbin

Presidents & Poker – Happy Presidents Day

 

Did you know that many American Presidents have also loved a good game of poker?

Martin Harris in his post for PokerStarsNews, covered the many presidents who enjoyed a good card game, saying “Poker is a great revealer of character, a truism that applies to Presidents as well as to lesser men.”

Did you know:

  • Before becoming the country’s first president, George Washington gambled at cards, keeping close records of wins and losses on a page in a ledger book titled “Cards and Other Play.”
  • Theodore Roosevelt used poker as a way to gain entry into social circles while moving up through the ranks to the vice presidency.
  • No president had a special dedication to poker the nation’s 29th president — Warren G. Harding. Harding hosted poker games twice a week with members of his administration, earning them the nickname the “Poker Cabinet.”
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt  brought back the poker-playing tradition during his administration with low-stakes games several times a week, often nickel-ante stud.

But the most studious poker-playing president of all was Richard Nixon. He became proficient at poker while serving in the Navy during WWII, earning perhaps as much as $10,000 which he used to help fund his first Congressional campaign. So taken with poker, Nixon even turned down dinner with famous flyer Charles Lindbergh as he was hosting a game that night.

The entire article can be found at “US Presidents Who Played Poker.”

 

The Facts About Video Blackjack vs Traditional Blackjack

Blackjack Table

Blackjack Table

There are four physical formats for playing blackjack in casinos:

  1. the traditional live table game with live dealer
  2. stadium game play, with a live dealer, but played with community cards by many players
  3. electronic blackjack, played by up to six players around a blackjack table with a video dealer
  4. video blackjack on a solitary machine, usually the same terminal with video poker, keno, and a few slots.

IGT video blackjack

Is it better to play video blackjack at a video poker terminal or to shimmy up to the table and play the game the way it was meant to be played? (at least before 6/5 BJ and all the enhanced house edge rules.)

It really depends on what you are looking for in your blackjack experience. There are some players out there that refuse to play a video blackjack game. (To be honest, I’d rather play keno than video blackjack.) Some players feel video blackjack can’t be trusted. But, there ARE reasons to play video blackjack?  Let’s compare:

ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING VIDEO BLACKJACK

LOWER MINIMUMS – Video blackjack machines often have a lower minimum bet as little as $1. Compared to traditional tables, even $5 seems low, especially on weekends where limits can start as high as $15 – $25.

BETTER RULES – Video blackjack games can have better rules than any live blackjack game that can be found in the same casino. Check the rules and you may find standing on all 17’s, offering surrender, doubling after the split and split up to 3 hands, better rules than many traditional games offered in several casinos.

BETTER COMPS – Comps, the free perks casinos give to players, are calculated higher for machine players. Some casinos won’t even rate you if you play under $25, and those that will rate you will give you very little in the way of comps, and making some promotions available to you that only apply to slot machines since your play on video blackjack machines will count as a slot machine.

NOT A SOCIAL PLAYER – Many of us have played at those serious tables of NFB (No Fun Blackjack).  The dealer might be grumpy, the players may be serious strategy or card counters, and heaven help you if play the wrong way (according to basic strategy).  Some players can be very intimidating, if not down-right nasty.  It is a belief that the wrong play will effect the other players’ hands.  Over time, this has been proven not to be true.  Your next mistake may actually help them win – but you;ll never hear a thank you for that.

DISADVANTAGES TO PLAYING VIDEO BLACKJACK – Now a word of caution from our friend, the Casino Answer Man John Grochowski:

CHECK THE PAYOFFS –  “Given basic strategy for a single-deck game, the house edge is about 2.5 percent. If you got the full 3-2 payoff on blackjacks, it would be a 0.24 percent game, but even-money pays on two-card 21s add 2.27 percent to the house edge. That’s equivalent to a slot payback percentage of 97.5 percent, so yes it’s a higher payback than on penny slots. Returns vary from game to game, casino to casino and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but penny slot paybacks almost always are less than 90 percent.

FASTER PLAY – A word of caution: video blackjack plays a lot faster than table blackjack. The video game doesn’t need time for dealing cards to other players, settling bets, stacking chips in trays, buy-ins and cash outs of multiple players, shuffles or cuts. As a video player, you can play just as fast as you can make decisions and hit the buttons. At a full table, you might play only 50 to 60 hands per hour. If you’re betting $10 a hand, you’re risking $500 to $600. At your video blackjack game, it’s easy to get in 500 hands per hour. Even with $1 bets, you’re betting $500 per hour.

Your hourly wager total is right up there with the $10 table players, and you’re playing against a house edge that probably is much higher than the table edge. On a six-deck game where the dealer hit soft 17, you may double on any first two cards including after splits, may split any pair up to three times and blackjacks pay 3-2, the house edge against a basic strategy player is 0.62 percent. If your budget extends only to $1 bets and you’re going to set a low loss limit, then you can have some fun at the blackjack machines. But for extended play, the table usually is the better play.

ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING LIVE BLACKJACK

A fun time was had by all!

While video blackjack has more of a beginner following, there are certainly advantages to a live dealer and live action.

DRINK SERVICE – If you would like good drink service, you will get served more drinks in the table games pit than you will in the slot area where video blackjack games usually are located.

BETTER COMPS FOR HIGHER ROLLERS – If you are going to average $25 or more a bet then you will get noticed in the pit and you are likely to get better comps.

COUNTING CARDS – If you are going to count cards it will be much easier to do so at the table games. It is impossible to count cards on some blackjack machines. A full table game of blackjack will likely be faster than a video blackjack game because novice players are more likely to be on the machines.

SMOKE FREE TABLES – If smoke bothers you then table games might be best for you too. Casinos will often make a table smoke free upon request. That cannot be done in the slot area.

SOCIAL – Table blackjack games also tend to be more social than video blackjack machines. No, it’s not the fun commeradeie of the craps table, but with the right people, it can bring a bit of “the players vs. the casino” excitement.

BAD VIDEO BLACKJACK MACHINES – BEWARE

The machines that can be played advantageously are multi seat machines where blackjack pays 3 to 2. Some video poker machines such as Game Kings and Game Makers have a heads up blackjack game on them. These are terrible blackjack games. These games typically pay even money on blackjack. They typically do not allow doubling after the split either. Some of these machines do not allow doubling at all. It is best to avoid these games. Some multi seat games are single deck games that pay 6 to 5 on blackjack. Avoid these single deck machines as well.

CONCLUSION

There are advantages to playing both live and video blackjack. Each player has their own goal as to what they would like to get out of a blackjack game. Blackjack can be fun whether it is a video blackjack game or a live blackjack game; it is up to the player to decide which they enjoy more.er hour. Even with $1 bets, you’re betting $500 per hour.

Binbin

 

Casino Chips Curiousity

“The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the poker chip was a genius.”

Ever wonder about the the poker chip? …..I have. If you think about it, it’s the universal symbol of money, and it was gambling that made it possible. Here are a few questions that crossed my mind that provide some interesting facts about the casino chip’s evolution….

1) How were chips ever used in casinos? When gambling became widespread in the 18th century, one difficulty was that people who gambled had different types of coins or valuables for wagering. To solve this problem some gambling venues offered gamblers substitutes like pieces of ivory, bones or clay. In the USA, the humble origins of the modern day familiar casino chips were born out of necessity. The game of poker first developed in the mid 1800’s along the Mississippi and other saloons and bars throughout the West.

2) Were chips forged as fake in the early days? Yes. Gamblers began to forge substitutes. As a result, gambling establishments began to brand their substitutes, the only surviving relic of which is the large plate (check) with a printed value. The problem continued, so casinos responded in the same old way – each casino created specially designed, hard-to-replicate chips that were unique to their venue. Chips became standardized in size, but the materials used for them, such as clay or expensive ivory, still varied widely.

3) What are today’s chips made of? Manufacturers now use high-pressure techniques combined with a mix of composite to produce chips. To hinder forgery the casinos even include a microchip in their chips

4) Can I use one Casino’s chips in another casino? Sometimes, but it’s always best to cash in before you leave. If the casino is owned by the same company, the chips might work at multiple properties. In Las Vegas, it’s common to see casino chips with the name of two different casinos printed on them – one on either side is the standard. Obviously, you’ll want to check with the pit boss or poker chip cashier first, just to make sure.

5) What about the colors? Do they mean anything? In most casinos, the denomination of the chip is a particular color:

  • white – $1
  • red – $5
  • green – $25
  • black – $100
  • purple – $500
  • orange – $1000

 

Chip Collecting

Casino chip collecting became increasingly popular during the 1980s, as evidenced by the sale of chips through several casino and collecting newsletters. Bill Borland’s Worldwide Casino Exchange (early 1980s) had a casino story each issue and dozens of old chips for sale. There are many different ways to collect casino chips. Because of the amount of chips available and the increasing price of some, collectors have begun to specialize. A collector might choose to collect every chip from a certain casino or one from every Las Vegas casino.

As for me, I like to collect pens – yes, casino pens. But that’s probably best saved for a future post.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

FARGO Poker at Mohegan Sun – Thoughts from the “Newbie”

The last two weeks of cramming to prepare for my first poker tournament is done.  The FARGO POKER weekend at Mohegan Sun is complete.  The learning curve was steep.  I take back with me many observations and experiences, which I’d like to share with you:

Concerning Playing Live Poker

The poker room is not the ambiance of a Home Game!

The Live Poker Room experience is like nothing you’ve ever anticipated, especially the first time.  No matter how much online practice, no matter how many resources you’ve read, and no matter how much advice you get before hand, the real table with real poker players is an overwhelming event for the beginner. The only way to become an efficient player is study, practice & play.

Home poker games do not prepare you for what you are about to experience.  Not only is the game taken very seriously, but it seems like everyone woke up crabby!  (Not the FARGO group, which I’ll get to later.)  Walking into a poker room is like walking into a Grumpy Resting Face Convention. If I want that serious of a negative vibe, I’ll just watch the news for two hours.  But, if you want to play poker, get used to that environment.

Poker players speak their own slang, much of which doesn’t make sense to the novice player. The speech is as fast as the pace of the cards. It’s definitely a different culture.

Speaking of fast-pace, each player is expected to keep up. The poker room is a tough place to get used to all the rules in betting, turns, blinds, etc.  Forget the strategy of outs, pre-flop hands and raises – the logistics and rituals of play are mind-boggling alone, especially as a “newbie.”  Only experience in the lion’s den of the poker room will get you where you need to be.

Being an excellent Video Poker player has little effect on success in the Poker Room. The solitary game of knowing the correct way to play every hand is no match to the all-encompassing experience of the Poker Room.

Concerning FARGO Poker

While my experience on my table of nine players made my head hurt, I wouldn’t have trade it for the world.  Not only are these players of FARGO experienced, tough players – they are also amicable, kind to new players, and eager to help you feel as comfortable as possible.  They chat throughout the early play, zinging each other, and telling stories of events past.  Many are friends that meet up only for this event, or similar events in Atlantic City & Las Vegas.

I gave me so much advice that they didn’t need to – after all, I was another competitor at the table (but not a threat 🙂 ).  But these people had nothing to prove, they knew their strategy, they knew each other, and fun was always on the agenda.  While I was busted first from my table, I lasted two hours, thanks to so much help and reminders.

The dealers love Fargo, and Fargo love the dealers.  Their reputation for fun and great poker play precedes them now at Mohegan Sun.  I wouldn’t be surprised if dealers ask to be put on that shift and those tables.  Special thanks to the dealers from “yours truly,” since you made each other aware of this guy in seat one – who was pretty wet around the ears.  So many took care of this poker stranger.

Conclusions

FARGO POKER is FANTASTIC!  These people love their poker, love playing each other and love to bring fun and consideration to all involved.  Special shout-outs to Tracy – who runs a great event and is one of the most accommodating people I’ve ever met, Sassy – who kept me on the straight and narrow concerning whatever I was doing at the table, “Big Mike” – for our time chatting in the hospitality suite, Rick Becker – the unsung hero, and “Cousin Vito” – whose coverage on his gambling podcast, and personal tweets made me realize this was a “Do-not-miss-event.”

And it should be a “Do-not-miss-event” for the rest of you next October at Mohegan Sun.  FARGO 2018 – don’t miss it!  As they say on their site, “Come Meet the Friends You Haven’t Met Yet…………………………………”

Binbin

Best Blackjack Quiz by Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin was one of those authors of gambling materials I followed in my humble beginnings when I started delving into the strategy for gambling, along with experts such as Bob Dancer, Jean Scott, John  Grochowski, Max Compton and Frank Scoblete.  They always seemed to have the answers I was looking for, no matter what gambling topic.

Henry has been very busy over the years. His best-selling book “Blackjack: Take The Money and Run,”  being editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course are just a few of his current accomplishments. His website SmartGaming is a go to website with “strategies for casino players who want to learn to play and win.”

For over 40 years, he has been an advocate for better odds for casino players, while also teaching the general public how to play smart. His specialties are blackjack and video poker.

Here are the publications that he currently writes for:

Casino Player Magazine
Strictly Slots Magazine
Midwest Gaming & Travel Magazine
Gaming South Magazine
Southern Gaming Magazine
New England Gaming News
Casino City Times
Jackpot
Bingo Bugle

In Casino City Times this week, he posted a Blackjack Quiz that I had to share.  Many of our followers are Blackjack enthusiasts, so I knew that if you thought you were so good at your strategy, you must take this quiz.  Answer the questions, take down your answers and check out how you did after all are done.  Here goes……


 

Blackjack

Blackjack

The Ultimate Blackjack Test – By Henry Tamburin

So you think you are a hotshot blackjack player? Take this short test and see how much you really know about the game. (Assume a six-deck game, with S17, and DAS.)

1. You hold a pair of eights and the dealer shows a face card. Would you hit, stand or split?

2. You hold an A-7 (8 or 18) and the dealer shows a five up card. Would you stand, hit or double down?

3. You hold a 10-6 and the dealer shows a seven up card. Would you hit or stand?

4. You hold a pair of nines and the dealer shows a nine up card. Would you stand or split?

5. You hold a 10-2 and the dealer shows a three. Would you hit or stand?

6. You hold a pair of fives and the dealer shows a six. Would you hit, split or double down?

7. You hold a pair of face cards and the dealer shows an ace and asks for “insurance”? Would you make the insurance bet? Yes or no?

8. You have 2-3-A-A and the dealer shows a five up card. Would you stand or hit?

9. You have 9-6 and the dealer shows a face card. Would you stand, hit or surrender?

10. You have A-3-4 and the dealer shows a nine up card. Would you hit or stand?

Which statements are true and which are false?:

11. Always take even money on a blackjack hand when the dealer shows an ace.

12. The third base player is the most important player on the table. If he stands or hits correctly, everyone will win.

13. A player who doesn’t have a clue about when to stand or hit will cause his fellow table players to lose.

14. Card counters always win.

15. Surrender is a playing rule that when used correctly can limit your losses.

16. Which of the following rules favor the casino, and which favor the player?
• Dealer hits soft 17.
• Double after pair splitting.
• Six decks vs. one deck.
• Resplit aces allowed.
• Double only on 10 or 11.
• Surrender.
• No resplitting of pairs

Cats Playing Blackjack

Answers (give yourself five points for each correct answer):

1. Split. You are better off starting a hand with an eight rather than with a 16 against a dealer face card. Overall you’ll lose money in the long run by splitting compared to hitting (standing is the least desirable play). As a general basic strategy rule, you should always split eights no matter what the dealer shows.

2. Double down. Even though an 18 is a strong player hand, you will win more money in the long run if you double down. The main reason is that by doubling, you can get more money on the table when the dealer has a good chance of breaking with a five up card.

3. Hit. Most blackjack players will hit a 16 against a dealer 10 but not against the dealer’s seven up card. They reason is that a 10 is a stronger card than a seven, so it’s more important to hit against the 10. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s a worse mistake to stand on 16 against a dealer’s seven vs. a 10 up card. Why? Even though the risk of busting the 16 is the same whether the dealer has a seven or 10 up card, your chances of eking a win by drawing a small card are greater when the dealer shows a seven compared to a 10.

4. Split. You are slightly better off starting with a count of nine on two hands rather than an 18 against a dealer’s nine up card. You’ll win 41% and lose 59% of the hands if you stand on 18 (at a dollar a hand, your net loss is $18 after $100 bet). If you split, you’ll end up winning about 47% of the hands and losing 53% (net loss is $12 – because you double your bet when pair splitting- per $100 bet). You’ll gain an extra $6 by splitting.

5. Hit. Only a 10-value card will bust your 12. Plus the dealer is not as vulnerable to busting with a three (and two) up card compared to a four, five or six up card. For these reasons, you should hit 12 when the dealer shows a three (and two) up card but stand if the dealer’s up card is four, five or six.

6. Double down. Most novice players make the mistake of splitting fives. Never split fives. Treat a pair of fives as a 10, and against a dealer’s six up card the best percentage play is to double down.

7. No. Insurance pays 2 to 1 on a bet that has less than 1 chance in 3 of winning (i.e., the odds are greater than 2 to 1). That will cost you money; about $7 for every $100 worth of insurance bets you make. Don’t do it!

8. Hit. Be careful with soft hands. A-2-3-A-A is a soft 17, and you should never stand on soft 17 no matter what the dealer shows.

9. Surrender. You will lose greater than 50 cents per dollar bet if you stand or hit. By surrendering, you limit your loss to exactly 50 cents. Therefore, you will save some money in the long run when you surrender.

10. Hit. An A-3-4 is a soft 18, Normally you would stand when you hold an 18 but in this case you have a soft 18. Against a dealer’s nine, you are slightly better off hitting a soft 18 rather than standing.

11. False. You will be giving up about 4% of your potential profits in the long run every time you take even money. Your best percentage play is to pass on taking even money.

12. 13. All false. These are misconceptions that most players have about blackjack.

14 Card counters do not win every time they play. They have a long-term advantage, which means over time they will win more money than lose. Over the short term, like a single playing session, they can lose.

15 True. When used correctly surrender can limit player’s losses.

16 The player favorable rules are double down after pair splitting, resplit aces, and surrender. The casino favorable rules are dealer hits soft 17, six decks vs. one deck, double only on nine and 10, and no replitting of pairs.

If you scored 75 or 80, you should be holding your own at the blackjack tables.

If you scored 60 – 80, you are probably losing more money than winning when you play blackjack.

If you scored less than 60, you had better spend some time improving your blackjack playing skills; otherwise, be prepared to lose a lot of money.

Fargo Poker At Mohegan Sun

Is that what beginning poker players look like?  I think I’m about to find out…..

Next weekend, I am branching out to participate in my first poker tournament when Fargo Poker comes to Mohegan Sun.

What IS Fargo Poker?

Fall Annual Recreational Gambling Outing (FARGO), founded in 1997 by Bill Alan Hafey, is a regional poker based event, loosely patterned after BARGE (an online community of poker enthusiasts that hosts an annual event (of the same name) in Las Vegas) and ATLARGE (a similar group in Atlantic City). “Regional” meaning FARGO takes place in the Northeast region, but people from anywhere on the planet are welcome. Originally, FARGO was held at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the F in FARGO stood for Foxwoods. In 2014, FARGO was moved to Mohegan Sun Resort Casino and the F was changed to Fall.

If interested, you need to act quickly – FARGO Registration ends tomorrow on 10/8/17. The registration fee for FARGO 2017 is $30. For this, you will receive a gift, the bounty for the NLHE event, a personalized embroidered jacket if you win an event and all the incidentals involved in getting ~100 people together for a weekend of fun. This fee is waived for non-playing guests.

For general information, go to the FARGO web site. Structure sheets will be available on the main FARGO page.  Here’s a quick view of the weekend:

  • Thursday’s event, recently added, is the Greg “FossilMan” Raymer, winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event Heads Up Tournament Training ($100) session.
  • The Friday event is the Bill Alan Memorial Pairs Event. One player will play Limit Omaha/8, and the other player will play Limit Hold’em.
  • Breakfast at the Seasons Buffet – The $15 fee is non-refundable if you oversleep, so be sure to get a wake up call. As always, feel free to tip an additional amount.
  • The Saturday event is NLHE with a bounty. I will provide the bounty, not the casino.
  • The Sunday Mixed Event will be HORSEDugi, where the “R” will play as RazzDugi, a split game of Razz and Badugi.

Back to me

……and my first tournament – because essentially this post is all about FARGO, ME and BEGINNING POKER HELP

I have played home games for years, on and off, but playing poker at this level – yikes!  I would consider myself a knowledgeable and proficient video poker player of over 20 years, and playing VP is a passion. Many Royals have flashed on my VP screens over the years, and expert play is always something I practice & strive for.

A recent hit at Foxwoods playing Ultimate X

But, Video Poker is a solitary game, and with a rate of over 600 hands per hour, I am able to recognize the patterns and not interact with others, silently enjoying my game at my pace.

But casino room poker means I have to interact with, well – PEOPLE!?!  So, I decided that it was time to do some studying, since I know this was going to be quite different…….I started my homework.  Here are some resources, besides our resources at NETG

HELP!!

A shout-out to Cousin Vito and his podcast CousinVito’sCasinoPodcast for making his avid listeners, (such as “moi). aware of this event. For more info and a primer on FARGO and Tournament Poker, check out his podcast E:55 Poker Survival Tips for Beginners and FARGO Poker with Tracy

Training Websites/ Everything Poker Websites

Some websites are excellent paid courses available to coach your game. The are tons of these sites, but a few were mentioned more often in poker internet forums.  DuecesCracked offers Videos, Forums, Tournament & Cash Game Videos, an Interactive Video Player to Discuss videos with coaches, No sign-up fees and a 7 Day FREE Trial.  Highly recommended. Two perfect beginner training video  include The Coaching Tree & Real Life: Micro NL-Grinder

Other websites are great for any level, and any type of poker service.

RedChipPoker.com is just that.  Forums, a great podcast, strategy articles to cover all levels, tools such as poker calculators & quizzes, and includes some great coaches for help.

Cardplayer.com & PokerNews.com have similar portfolios of poker help, including coverage and dates for national poker tournaments such as WSOP & WPT. They also follow the best poker players in the world, and legislation concerning online poker & online gaming, including DFS.

Finally, if you’re look for websites for basic beginners tips, try:

PokerListings.com

CardsChat.com

ThePokerBank.com

It’s time for me to do some studying and practice. Every beginner at the table has the fear of looking like “that guy” – the novice.

It’s simple, with today’s post, we don’t have to be that guy.

Wish me luck!

Binbin

Poker Primer from “Adequate Man”

I consider myself a very good video poker player.  I’ve studied Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus video poker.  When I say studied, I mean practiced, trained, and worked towards AP status. But I know very well that poker and video poker are two different beasts.

Yes, I have played home games, penny-ante kind of stuff, but not with serious, experienced poker faces across the table.

So, this October, I’m about to take the plunge into the casino poker room. Cousin Vito, on his weekly podcast, has been talking about the FARGO POKER Event at Mohegan Sun, October 12 – 15th.  I’ve decided to join the event, meet the friendly people of FARGO poker, and report on it here. Click above to read all about it.

I looked at this great website I know of, NETimeGambling.com. There, I found a great Poker primer.  Kyle Wagner from the site ADEQUATE MAN has a great Beginner’s post on how to start playing poker called “How To Survive At The Poker Table.”

Below is just a sample, (minus the profanity.) The pictures were added by “moi.”

“How To Survive At The Poker Table.”

One of my favorite all-time movies – “the Sting”
Poker used to be cool. From Wild Bill Hickok getting shot up over aces and eights to Paul Newman and Robert Shaw eyeing each other in The Sting, it has always held a place in American culture as the game you’d find grown men playing in the smoke-filled back rooms. Here’s all you need to look like you know what you’re doing, not (mess) up the game, and hopefully not get taken for all you’re worth.

That said: I do mean hopefully. This article can’t teach you how to play poker well. There’s plenty enough writing about poker out there, and plenty enough guides on the matter, both basic and advanced. We’ll take you through some basic table etiquette, parlance, and rudimentary concepts for playing soundly. But remember: We’re only here to make you Good Enough. We aren’t even trying to keep you out of the “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first 20 minutes …” pile, since an experienced player will get a sense of where everyone stands easily enough. We’re more aiming for “Just make sure you’re second-slowest when you’re escaping the bear” territory.

Foxwoods Poker Room

Largest Poker Room in N.E. at Foxwoods

Foxwoods Poker Room Largest Poker Room in N.E. at Foxwoods
Most of this advice boils down to “keep….. to yourself”—this is good general practice regardless of venue. So, here’s how to fit in well enough at a table that you won’t get on everyone’s nerves, and also how to keep your head far enough above water that you can afford to come back.

TABLE ETIQUETTE

You’re shooting for two things here: You want to avoid slowing the game down, and you want to avoid being the annoying simp everyone has to correct. We’ll start with pace-of-play stuff.

1. Know when it’s your turn.

2. Don’t bet or fold out of turn.

3. Know what kind of bet you can make, and what kind you can’t.

4. Don’t stack your chips like an idiot, but stack your chips. images

5. Don’t splash the pot (also: Don’t say, “Don’t splash the pot”). When you bet, don’t just toss your chips in the middle of the table; place them in front of you, preferably in somewhat organized stacks. This lets the rest of the table see what you’ve bet, and keeps it separate from the pot.

6. Leftovers.

  • Don’t buy in for a ridiculously small amount.
  • Know the difference between “bet” and “raise.”
  • Leave your cards on the table.
  • Don’t look at other players’ cards. .
  • Don’t slow-roll. Slow-rolling is a troll move in games that have hole cards, where at the end of a hand, you only turn over one of your two cards. By the rules, you’ve got to turn both over eventually anyway.
  • Don’t take money off the table.
  • Tip the dealer.
  • Don’t String Bet.

HOW TO ACTUALLY PLAY…….Sorry, to get the explanations of the above great suggestions as well as the rest of Kyle’s post, click on his Title above. You won’t regret it.

Binbin

Blackjack Side Bets in New England Casinos

According to John Grochowski, side bets in Blackjack are offered for two basic reasons, “….to add a little excitement for players who want more out of the game than trying to grind out a profit one bet at a time, and to increase action to generate more profit for the house.”

What are the side bets offered in New England’s Casinos for Blackjack?  And are they worth playing?

We will list the side bets, explain a little about them, and give John Grochowsk’s take on if it’s worth it.  Keep in mind some side bet paytables differ even with the same game.  My suggestions is to check out the Wizard of Odds for more on side bets variance for blackjack.

Match The Dealer

In New England’s casinos, there are a variety of side bets.  The most popular is Match the Dealer, which can be found at Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods and Twin River in Rhode Island.  

The Match the Dealer side bet pays when either of the player’s first two cards match the dealer’s up card. According to Traditional blackjack, the payouts are as follows:

  • 1 non-suited match pays 4 to 1;
  • 2 non-suited matches pay 8 to 1;
  • One suited match pays 11 to 1;
  • One suited match and one non-suited match pay 15 to 1;
  • 2 suited matches pay 22 to 1.

According to many players, this side bet has a fixed house advantage that is fairly high, several times higher than blackjack. Not a good bet.

Lucky Ladies

Lucky Ladies side bet c an be found at the HOLLYWOOD Casino, Hotel & Raceway in Bangor, ME. LUCKY LADIES™ BONUS BET is a side bet based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card. As far as I know, it is the first side bet to be based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card. Since it came out, there have been many imitators.  Lucky Ladies is also known as, “The 20 Point Bonus Wager” point count of their first 2 cards equals 20.

PAYOUT SCHEDULE – First two cards: Queen of Hearts Pair (with Dealer Blackjack) = 1,000 to 1; Queen of Hearts Pair = 125 to 1; Matched 20 = 19 to 1, Suited 20 = 9 to 1;  Any 20 = 4 to 1

JG – Lucky Ladies: There’s the possibility of huge wins here, with a 1,000-1 bonanza if the player is dealt two queens of hearts while the dealer has a blackjack, or 125-1 on a pair of heart ladies regardless of the dealer hand. In the version I’ve seen, there’s also a 19-1 payoff on a 20 if both cards are the same rank and suit, 9-1 on a suited 20 on cards of different ranks, such as jack-king, or 4-1 on an unsuited 20.
That’s an attraction, to be sure, but at a 24.71 percent house edge, the cost is high. Average loss per hour is a whopping $14.83 of the $60 at risk. That dwarfs the average blackjack loss for a $10-a-hand basic strategy player, and is even higher than the loss for an average player.
Think about it: That extra $1 per hand more than doubles the average loss for a $10 blackjack bettor who is just an average player.
For those who don’t limit the side bets to a buck, just multiply by your bets. Make the side bets equal to your $10 blackjack bets, and average losses shoot up to about $20 an hour in 21 + 3, $40 in Royal Match, and $148 in Lucky Ladies.

“21+3”

This side bet, found at Oxford Casino, in Oxford,ME., pays based on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card. If the three cards equal a flush, straight, straight flush, or three of a kind the side bet pays 9 to 1.  It does come in various versions according to the number of decks.

JG – “21 + 3: At mostly full tables, the $1 side bets mean a risk of $60 per hour. The 3.24 percent house edge means a few pennies shy of $2 extra in the house coffers. For basic strategy players, that’s just $1 less than the losses from betting 10 times as much on the main game.
Average players who are losing $12 an hour might find that extra two bucks palatable for the chance at 9-1 payoffs if their two cards plus the dealer’s up card form a flush, straight or three of a kind. It’s a much smaller leap from their regular loss rate of $1.20 per $60 wagered.

“In BETween”

This blackjack side bet has been seen a few places here and there, and in New England, it’s found found at Oxford Casino. According to Mike Shackelford, the “Wizard of Odds” himself, “The goal is for one card to fall between two others in rank. In this case, the primary goal is the dealer’s up card to fall between the player’s initial two cards.”

Progressives

The “Super Four” side bet in Mohegan Sun is the only location to offer it in New England.  Here’s more on the bet:

  • The side bet is $5 and $5 only.
  • The circle will be to the left of the blackjack bet as Match The Dealer will be retained in it’s usual place.
  • Super 4 is a progressive blackjack side bet based on the four cards consisting of the player’s and dealer’s initial two cards.
  • In both, the player wins on a dealer blackjack. The amount of the win depends on the poker value of all four cards.

One gentleman walked away feeling very lucky on July 12th after hitting the Super 4 Diamonds bonus jackpot totaling $347,456.

At Foxwoods, Blackjack Match Progressive is offered. Here’s more on the bet:

  • Blackjack Match is a side bet that wins if the player and/or the dealer have a blackjack.
  • The value of the win is maximized if the blackjacks are suited and match.
  • Unlike most other progressive side bets, this one costs $5 instead of $1 and are on a “for one” basis, meaning the original wager is not returned on a win.
  • On the top two awards, there is an “Envy Bonus,” which means a win for every other player at the table who made the side bet.

 

We visited all 7 New England Casinos this summer.  This is part of what we found.  More comparisons and info will be presented throughout the fall.

That’s all for now.

 

7 Most Viewed “Casino”Posts in August at NETG

It’s been a few weeks since we looked back at previous the week’s previous posts and highlights.  So, this morning, I will highlight the best of August, in case you missed anything on vacation. But first, some gambling humor:

In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the casino roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number.” —Gambling Joke By Stephen Wright (courtesy of ThrillofGambling.com )

SO, HERE ARE THE TOP “LUCKY 7” POSTS FROM AUGUST

7)Slot Machines – When to Play Max Bet

One of the most debated topics regarding slot machines, and video poker, concerns max bet, specifically when should I hit that bet max button. Max Bet or Maximum Bet is the highest amount of coins or credits you can play in a single spin.

 


 

6)Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical

Ever wonder how the casino you visit decides on what comps to give you? My comps continued to be menial – “minion’s comps” I call them until I found out about Average Daily Theoretical – the average amount that a gambler losses per day for a certain gambling activity…..


 

5)Three Suggestions to Slot Machine Players

Have you wondered why it seems harder to win at your favorite casino?  Here are three tips.


 

4)Massachusetts More Worried, Not Mohegan Sun, About New England’s Casino Share

Still getting noticed after posted two years ago.  For related posts, check out: Massachusetts, MGM Springfield, is Still Worried About Their New England Casino Share


 

#3)Daily Bus Transportation to Our New England Casinos

It seems getting to our 7 casinos in four states is on the minds of our followers.  It will only get more involved with the addition of MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor!

 

#2)COMPARING ALL 7 NEW ENGLAND CASINOS – From our Menu Pages & Archives


 

AND THE MOST REVIEWED POST IN AUGUST:

5 Things You Need to Know About New Foxwoods Rewards Club

Have a great week. – Binbin

 

Craps Players Have the Most Fun – 5 Reasons

The Craps table can be a very confusing place to the beginner!

The Craps table can be a very confusing place to the beginner, but it always sounds like the players have the most fun.

Ever play slots next to the craps tables?  How distracting…..all that noise…..and smiles…..and camaraderie……and fun…….and, hmmmmmm?

It always seems like it’s a band of warriors, or a team winning against the champs. A group of Davids trying to bring down Goliath together, and whether they do or not,  the banter, the laughter, and the joy of making that long roll supersedes all losing.  Together they have made the good fight.

There’s got to be more to it, right?

Let’s inspect this more deeply….. here are five reasons craps players have more fun than any other table games.
1) It’s not just about a beating the house, it’s beating the house TOGETHER! The community, the friends – the kind you bring or the kind you make, and it’s not only OK to vocally yell for their success, it’s encouraged.  Even the dealers at the table seem to get into the fun, or they should – it’s encouragement personified – a battle together against the casino.

Fun at craps

2) It’s about tolerance.  Yes, there are those nay-sayers that believe in the anti-point – the “Don’t-Pass” bettors. But, if they behave, even they are allowed to bring their bad karma to the Spartans fight for the point to be made.

Don’t Pass Bet in Craps. Not the favored bet on the table.

3) It’s about the “stick man” – a dealer that actually announces what’s happening.  A craps stickman is the casino staff member who calls out the dice rolls and then returns the dice to the shooter. It’s like having your own color commentator.  Wouldn’t that be cool to have behind you at a VP machine (“four to a Royal…. three of hearts, no Royal, side out”   ……hmmm, maybe not…..)

Stickman to the left, boxman in the center, dealer to the right makes for a well-oiled machine.

4) It’s about playing at different levels of proficiency. For a game that looks so complicated – it’s really not hard. And while asking for advice at other table games usually results in grunts and grumbling from players and dealers alike, your new friends are more than happy to help you.  Go with a buddy who does play craps is even more fun.  “Pass line” – that’s all a craps newbie needs to know to join the fun.  All that other stuff on the table? There’s Plenty of time to learn about that.  K-I-S! (Keep It Simple)
5) It’s about throwing the dice – to throw the dice means you control the fate of the table.  As Star Trek’s Spock once said, “”With great power comes great responsibility” – but don’t let that bother you. On no other table game do you have the control – YOU’RE THE ONE TO THROW THE DICE!  The roulette dealer never let’s me turn the little ball in the wheel, and the BJ dealer doesn’t even let me touch the cards, never mind deal!  (Yes, I know you hold the cards in single deck BJ, but try finding it.) In New England, both Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Maine casinos and Rhode Island’s Twin River have real craps tables.

Shooting the dice everyone gets the chance.

Many casinos give free lessons.  Want to practice, or learn on your computer / iphone – there are programs and apps galore.  Here are some places to start:

Websites: Gambling Teachers – http://www.gamblingteachers.com/craps.html

Software: WinCraps (Online Casinos also offer free craps play)

Books: “Craps: Take the Money and Run” by Henry Tamburin &

             “Craps Made Simple” by Tomas B. Gallagher

Apps: “Aw Craps!”

Craps Dice

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…….keep those dice a-rollin……..
That’s all for now.
Binbin