Sunday, February 22, 2009
April 24-25-26 Golden Gate
April 27-28 Eastside Cannery
April 29-30- Laughlin's Tropicana Express
May 1-2- 3-4 - Laughlin's Edgewater
Bill Neuman will share the Laughlin portion of the trip with me. I expect to have a car this time. This is unusual for me but I'll be using it right up through the trip to Denver-Albuquerque- and back to Vegas for a couple days to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday.
Friday, February 06, 2009
--- On Fri, 2/6/09, Ann wrote:
Subject: Myths of Gambling
To: "Hill.dewey" < >
Date: Friday, February 6, 2009, 9:08 AM
From Bottom Line Secrets. Think that you have things figured out? Think again! --- Ann
Thanks, Ann. I do read this guy quite often as I receive his newsletters. I just quoted him in a note on a discussion board today as I liked the way he presented the case that there are rude players at the blackjack table. I used his words to set straight a guy who was saying poker was too rude for him.
Still Sclobete is very simplistic and in this piece is deceptively so.
I may not have it all figured out yet, but I have it figured out better than he does in this article.
Maybe because he is most often writing to a poorly read audience of gamblers, he slants things at times and often (including here) stops short of telling the whole story. What he calls "reality: here is sometimes merely half truth, SO I have added the rest of the story to some of his realities.
n casinos, the odds are always against the gambler, but the odds grow even more dim when gamblers hold erroneous beliefs about the games they play. Seven of the most common -- and costliest -- gambling myths...
Myth 1: Higher-limit slot machines offer better odds, so they're a smarter play. In major casinos, the quarter slots typically return about 91% of the money bet... the dollar slots, 94% to 95%... and the $5 slots, upwards of 95%. But in this case, the better odds are not your best bet. The 91% average return on the quarter slots means that over time, you'll lose an average of 2.25 cents per play, assuming that you risk just one coin at a time. The 94% to 95% return on the dollar slots translates into an average loss of five to six cents every time you insert a coin, so you'll lose your money more than twice as fast. And with $5 slots, you'll lose an average of at least 25 cents per play -- more than 10 times as fast as with the quarter machines.
Reality: It's true that, statistically, you stand to win most at the highest-limit machines, but unless you have lots of money that you can afford to lose, the only time it's wise to move up to the dollar slots is if you have been playing the quarter slots three quarters at a time. At an average loss of between six and seven cents per pull, you would be better off switching to the dollar machines -- assuming that you restrict yourself to a single dollar coin per play.
Warning: The worst slot odds are on "progressive" or "linked" machines that offer escalating jackpots, up to six figures or higher. These machines typically return only 85% of the money bet.
Myth 1 - re: "Warning: The worst slot odds are on "progressive" or "linked" machines that offer escalating jackpots, up to six figures or higher. These machines typically return only 85% of the money bet."
The rest of the story: In video poker a player can mathematically figure when a progressive is a good bet or not. My favorite Double Bonus Progressive at the 4 Queens is always a great bet and always better than any Double Bonus anywhere else because the pay table is the best it gets in Double Bonus, paying over 100% for perfect play, and the progressive is added on the top of that. Adding a few of these prime playing places to his myth breaking might give
Scoblete readers a more balanced view of his "secrets," He might counter that he is just writing about slots here, but he might also have said this "secret" does not apply to video poker at all. It is true that it can be hard to find good video poker at above the dollar level. However, anyone can know what high paying machines are by studying and learning pay tables. At least at real VP like Foxwoods and Vegas. NY fake VP is another story.
Myth 2: This slot machine is due. Some slot players continue to pour money into slot machines that haven't been winning on the theory that the machines are "due" to hit. Conversely, players who have won money on a machine sometimes continue to play, thinking that the machine is "hot." Still others believe that when all the symbols for a big jackpot appear in view, but not in line, the machine is close to a major payout.
Reality: What a slot machine has done on past spins has absolutely no bearing on what it does on future spins. Each spin is independent and random.
Myth 3: Single-deck blackjack gives gamblers a fighting chance against the casino. At a typical casino blackjack table, six or eight decks of cards are shuffled together. But now many casinos also offer single-deck blackjack, where only one deck is in play at any given time. With just 52 cards to account for, it seems easier for gamblers to calculate their best strategies.
Reality: The casino has structured the single-deck game so that it's harder than ever to beat the house. At a normal blackjack table, the casino pays three to two when you get blackjack -- $15 on a $10 bet. At single-deck tables, the payout is only six to five, or $12 on a $10 bet. That lower payout means that over time, even if you are able to win a few more hands because you have kept track of the cards that have been played, you can expect to lose your money nearly three times as fast as you would at a multi-deck table.
re: Myth 3 - single deck blackjack in spite of Sclobete's blanket statement, still pays 3/2 in many venues, including in Vegas at the El Cortez, and Scoblete needs to spend more time saying that and pointing out where it happens, than trying to argue that the advantage of single deck blackjack is a myth. Unless this one rule is changed, single deck is the best game and he knows it. He is just pointing out that the movement from 3/2 blackjack to 6/5. Well, duhhhh! that is old, old news. No intelligent BJ player plays at tables that offer 6/5.
Myth 4: Play the trend at the blackjack table. Gamblers like to search for trends, even where none exist. They'll bet more at the craps table when the dice are running "hot" or bet a number that has hit a few times on the, though a modern wheel in a major casino is extremely unlikely to be biased.
In general, betting the trend in the casino is no worse than any other bet, but blackjack is an "antitrend" game. Example: When a lot of small cards have been dealt, there are fewer small cards left to be played, making it smarter to assume that the trend will reverse.
Reality: At the blackjack table, betting the trend is a costly mistake.
Myth 5: If I can win in poker games with my friends, I can win in the casino or online. In casinos and at online gambling sites, you're not just playing against the other players at the table -- you're also playing against the "rake," the house's cut of anywhere from 2% to 20% of winning pots. And unlike in home games, you're not playing against people you know, so you can't expect to read your opponents. Online, you might even be up against pro gamblers using computer programs and teamwork to up their odds.
Reality: The best way to survive is to play tighter than you would at a friendly home game, folding most hands and risking your money only when your opportunities are greatest.
re: Myth 5 home poker games
The rest of the story: We all know that playing at Greg's is different than playing in the casino. There is no rake, players' styles are not already memorized, and usually we only have five players rather than ten.
That being said, it is wrong of Scoblete to issue a broad statement and try to diminish the value of home games in preparation for casino games as if he is myth breaking.
I won my last visit to Tampa Hard Rock by twice playing like Greg has taught me to play. I think of him every time I play in the casino and he has greatly increased my winnnings.
When I come out a winner any day at the casino, I usually say to myself that I did it from things I learned from playing against Greg. None of it could he have explained to me over lunch even if he would be willing to share his strategy.
My $2000 run at Foxwoods over 14 trips was all based on using a greg strategy along with my own.
Also, every week Greg and I both practice changing up our patterns of strategy to offset what we have learned about each other the week before. Even Bruce has started to do that. This is the highest level of poker play, figuring out what your opponent thinks of your patterns and altering them at the right time to fool him. It is best practiced at games where the player's repeat week after week. In the casino you never play against the same group twice. Peter is learning it quickly now too and it has made it possible for him to play in a casino.
Finally, "betting into perceived weakness" is the single greatest poker lesson Greg (or anyone) has ever taught me.
Maybe Scoblete should join Greg and fellow author Blowers at our games some week. He might learn a bit.
Down here in Florida, every spring, baseball players come for spring training for the same reason.
Myth 6: Fast play is good play. At table games, experienced gamblers typically make quick decisions and become frustrated with novice players who move slowly and drag down the pace of play.
Reality: It's in a gambler's best interests to move slowly. Not only does slower play give you more time to think, it reduces the number of hands that you'll play on a given night. Because the odds are in the house's favor on every hand, fewer hands played means greater odds that you'll walk away a winner -- or at least that you'll lose less. The only downside to taking a little time is the dirty looks you'll receive from the dealer and your fellow gamblers. If you're at a casino with friends, play at the same table, so you won't feel outnumbered and bullied into fast play.
the rest of the story re: Myth 6 - fast play - In poker fast play can be an excellent strategy. I lost money my last game because the fast play of my opponent shortened my own time to think. He suckered me into that pace on purpose and so he got raises when he should have got calls. Greg uses it in head to head games at the end of the afternoon. I have to fight to slow down my own response to his fast play. So it depends on what you are using the fast play for.
All professional VP players work to develop fast play. It is the only way they can make any money. Since they have the mathematical advantage, they work to keep their strategy perfect while making there hourly expected winnings greater by playing more hands per hour.
I am content to break even at VP, and use my comps for free rooms and drink my share of rum. I don't make a living at it and I don't enjoy speed much in any game now which is why I prefer Scrabble to Boggle.
But fast play in video poker is the rule for serious gamblers.
In the literature of video poker there is a lot of debate about how fast to play. Some even develop simpler, but not as advantageous strategies ( still over 100%) so as to increase speed and average hourly earnings.
Myth 7: Comps are a way to "win" at the casino. After you sign up for a rewards card at a casino, you might earn complimentary meals, show tickets -- even hotel rooms. Many gamblers view these comps as a way to recoup their losses at the gambling tables. Casinos view them as a way to keep gamblers happy as they lose money.
Reality: When you receive great comps, it means that based on how you're betting, the casino expects you to lose a large amount of money.
the rest of the story re: Myth 7 comps -The rest of the story: It does not take a mathematical genius to know that you can't play highly negative expectation games over a long period and expect to be paid back over the amount the casino wins; however, all gambling writers agree that comps are what make the difference in winning once you have become an advantaged player.
Either live poker or full pay video poker with no errors will push comps into the positive place for educated gamblers.
Here in I sure miss my comps. Elizabeth and I were playing poker in Ocala and got charged for coffee. Can you believe that!! At Foxwoods on my bus trips I usually drink at least 4 Myers Rum. That adds substantially to the overall value of the day. In fact, I often argue with folks on the gambling boards that when they rent a car in Vegas, they need to add to the cost the value of the liquor they did not drink because they then have to stay sober. So they may get the car on the cheap, but they may also give up $50 in free alcohol. Expensive car rental.
Comps from poker play don't come with an automatic, mathematically grind out casino advantage as in slot play.
Comps from over 100% payback video poker make up the real winnings. That is the point of Jean Scott's books on Frugal Gambling. She argues that because the games at best offer a near break-even opportunity, that contrary to what Sclobete offers as a myth, comps and coupons are the only way to win at the casino. She figured that gambling paid off because, with good study and discipline, a VP player could just about break even on the gambling while getting shows, food, and a free vacation for her and her friends.
Of course, she found a better way to make money at gambling. Like Sclobete she found that writing books paid better than any other risk.
I wish I had kept track of my comps over the course of my gambling, but even my rough estimates tell me that over my lifetime, my comps have overcome by two to three times my total gambling losses.
Smart gamblers like Jean Scott, , etc. depend on this.
By the way, where Bill Neuman and I will play poker in Laughlin in May gives us free rooms for poker play. It is the only place in the world I know that does that. That is one really good comp.
Now to give the guy a break, Scoblete knows next to nothing about live poker. His game is craps. He has an entire system worked out for craps which he says will overcome the mathematics of the game. It has managed to sell many books and get him his position as a gambling author. If he had to live on what he knows about poker, he'd be broke. So he should stick to what he knows when he writes and not talk about other games as if he had secrets.
Of course, that means he writes the same thing over and over again. I suppose he worries it will get to be old information.
Nothing he said here has been a "secret" and it certainly is not "bottom line"
-- On Fri, 2/6/09, Ann Parillo
From: Ann Parillo
Subject: from my cousin
Date: Friday, February 6, 2009, 7:05 PM
I have played casino blackjack for 39 years .I have read many different theories. From my combination of the theory and empirical knowledge , I must say the author was correct on single deck black jack,and your friend is wrong . Every time I have played single deck then 6/5 scenario exists . Furthermore some other options are removed .Additionally , the dealer buries a card and the hole cards are not revealed until after the dealing is done ,and the deck is reshuffled after every hand makes it very difficult for card counting See : tre: Myth 3 - single deck blackjack in spite of Sclobete's blanket statement, still pays 3/2 in many Vegas venues, including the El Cortez, and Sclobete needs to spend more time saying that and pointing out where it happens, than trying to argue that the advantage of single deck blackjack is a myth. Unless this one rule is changed, single deck is the best game and he knows it. He is just pointing out that the movement from 3/2 blackjack to 6/5. Well, duhhhh! that is old, old news. No intelligent Bj player plays at tables that offer 6/5..\
I have concluded there are three components to BJ , namely , skill, money management , and luck . Without the luck, the other two don't count. I am certain about these things, Don't play too long because the law of averages favors the house . Extended play favors the house . Don't play when you are tired, have to go to the men's' room or drinking alcohol . Always set a stop win goal as well as a stop loss goal . Almost everyone has a comfort zone as to how much they can lose, however, it takes great discipline to stop when you are ahead . My finest hour (literally ) was at Caesars Palace when I started with $60 and walked away with $5800. I had won my last hand, quit ,and the checked out of the hotel even though I had 2 more days on my hotel reservation. I realized that if I continued to play , I would have lost it back ton the casino. Quit when you are ahead ( a bird in hand ) . Currently, I go to a local casino where I walk away with small victories . That is. when I am ahead $200. I go home. It is much easier to do that when you can go home easily as opposed to being a guest at a Vegas casino.
Dewey's adds another rest of the story
Hey,just what I need to entertain me with this head cold. A good gambling discussion.
re: many theories
Nothing I said in my response or that I add here has anything to do with gambling theory. Those are longer arguments.
What I developed was the mathematics that Sclobete presented and the full math that exists as well as the way he warped his realities by ignoring part of what is real.
I also don't write much about luck. Luck is very short term and merely controls the spaces in the bell curve, but not the ultimate advantage. In life, luck has great power over our final outcome, but in gambling luck is confined to very narrow, predetermined boundaries rules and made irrelevant by the rule of large numbers and the drift to the mean that all long term gamblers are going to experience.
"The smarter I play, the luckier I get,"
- Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us. But it has a way of favoring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid.
- John Dewey
US educator, Pragmatist philosopher, & psychologist (1859 - 1952)
Stanford Wong's green chip pay site gives the best up to date BJ information but I don't play enough to make the investment in the site cost effective.
Naturally, it won't be on the strip in places like Caesar's. There is very little good gambling on the strip of any sort. They have to pay for all those fake roman statues and fountains and such.
Full pay video poker is rare there. Hardly worth chasing to find, as the games disappear if they do surface.
Caesar's even stopped serving decent alcohol in the live poker room. So there goes my Myers Rum argument, where comps add to the value of the play. I can't drink the slop they call rum. It adds no value to my play. I can get it one right after the other at the El Cortez and a good amount too.
Poker buddy Slink plays BJ at the El Cortez every time he goes to Vegas. here is a note from their site:
And here are some other Nevada casinos that deal good games all 3/2:
reported by Mike Shackleford on his Wizard of odds site.
Best in Nevada: Both the Fitzgeralds in Reno and the Alamo in Sparks have a single-deck game, that allows surrender, double any first two cards, and six-card charlies. The basic strategy house edge is 0.10%.
Best in California: The Barona has a hit-soft-17, single-deck game, that allows double after a split, double any first two cards, and late surrender. I'm told the shuffling policy is to deal two rounds with 3 to 5 players, and down to 18 cards with 1 or 2 players. Due to the cut card effect, that makes the house edge 0.12% with 1 or 2 players, and 0.01% with 3-5 players. When I played there on a Friday night, the table was usually full.
I think if you search for them energetically, those games are around other places as well.
Some of the other rule variations can be balanced mathematically. But playing 6/5 is just the worst rule change I have ever seen, which is why the casinos made that change just a a few years ago. Here is the math affecting the power of various rule changes.
Doing a bit of comparative math shows you that you could give up a lot of player advantageous rules and still not overcome the 6/5 disadvantage.
Scoblete might have included in his article a chart like this if he wanted to talk about reality
Mike Shackleford over at Wizard of Odds (click this link) goes into great mathematical detail on many, many games. He is a much better source of gambling information than Sclobete, and considered to be the best source by most well read gamblers. Again this is not theory he discusses, but straight mathematics. If he suggests a strategy, it is based on the math and not on subjective preference.
|Blackjacks pay 2 to 1||+2.27%|
|Five card Charlie 1||+1.46%|
|Suited blackjacks pay 2 to 1||+0.57%|
|Player 21-points is automatic winner||+0.54%|
Early surrender against ace
Early surrender against ten
|5-card (or more) 21 automatically pays 2 to 1||+0.24%|
|Player may double on any number of cards||+0.23%|
|Ace and 10 after splitting aces is a blackjack||+0.19%|
Player may draw to split aces
Six card Charlie1
|Double Down Rescue||+0.10%|
Player may resplit aces
Late surrender against ten
|777 pays 3 to 1 automatically||+0.05%|
|777 pays 2 to 1 automatically||+0.03%|
Seven card Charlie1
|Late surrender against ace||+0.00%|
|Dealer must stop with six cards||+0.00%|
Late surrender after splitting
Split to only 2 hands
|No-peek: ace showing2|
|Player and dealer cards dealt from separate shoes5||-0.06%|
Player may double on 9-11 only
No-peek: ten showing6
Player may not resplit
|European no hole card7||-0.11%|
Player may not double after splitting
Player may double on 10,11 only
|Player may not split aces||-0.18%|
Dealer hits on soft 17
|Blackkjack pays 7-5||-0.45%|
Blackjack pays 6-5
Player loses 17 ties
|Blackjacks pay 1 to 1||-2.27%|
Player loses 17,18 ties
Player loses 17-19 ties
Player loses 17-20 ties
|Player loses 17-21 ties||-8.86%|
|Dealer bust on 22 is a push||-9.53%|
As well, as single deck games, there are good double deck games that pay 3/2. The last time I was there, Binions was dealing one.
Sclobete completely ignored the mathematics of adding more decks. He makes no difference between 2 decks and 8 decks. . The reality is that the fewer decks (given all the other rules the same) the better the game and generally adding decks adds a good bit of disadvantage to the player. He knows that this is the case. He just overgeneralizes, pretending he is myth busting. Telling any intelligent gambler who has anything figured out that 6/5 is a bad game is like telling people not to eat shit. Sure some people will still do that, but I wouldn't write a column debunking food myths and put in it, "Oh, hey, by the way, don't eat shit."
Sclobete also says nothing about counting and the problem of measuring when casinos shuffle up. Your cousin mentions this. Certainly the rate of shuffle up is a problem for the counter. This could have been mentioned by Sclobete.
And I am not suggesting that finding good games is as easy as it was when your cousin first started playing. This 6/5 is a relatively new BJ disease to a guy who has played for 39 years. Maybe it is a decade old.
Plenty of blackjack players have abandoned the game because of this move toward less dealer friendly games, and also the heat applied to counters. To count and make money a player has to spread his bankroll in a way that makes him very visible. Good counters work on disguises as well as strategy, so they are not barred from the casino. Casino technology and sharing of good counter's faces between casinos have made it hard to be a professional Bj player and make a living. They can no longer get barred from one place and be invisible in the next.
That is one reason so many smart gamblers are drifting to live poker which is not a house advantage game and where you can know all the math you want and no casino cares.
I agree with the common sense of brother Frank's wisdom of money management, but it has nothing to do with odds or mathematics, only with comfort level. I thought it was interesting that a guy who says he has played blackjack for 39 years advises us not to play too long. When exactly does he intend to quit?
But I know what he means. He means that in any given session he can leave feeling better if he does not let the casino grind him down too much or grind back his winnings. That may be okay from a purely subjective, short term, comfort level perspective, but if we are going to gamble all our lives, we should keep track of wins and losses and manage our money over the long term.
We would not think of going to the bank with such a money management system. We would never forget from time to time how much we deposited in one visit or withdrew in another. We keep a record and balance the checkbook.
Money management is like deciding just how much in a given week we intend to spend on groceries. We have to stay within a bankroll, but that says nothing about the quality of the meat we are buying.
I often see money management systems like cousin Frank's debunked as gambling myths.
Once you get the bankroll issue out of the way, in player advantage games like good VP or live poker, you should play whether you are winning or losing as long as you are playing well and keep the right advantage.
Winning or losing, you should quit when you detect that you have lost the advantage because the players have changed or you are too tired to play well. I often quit a poker session because I suffered a bad beat and don't trust my emotions or because new players have joined the table who are better than I am, or just because I don't feel like giving them all the time and energy it takes to determine whether they are better.
As for house advantage games, the best money management is just not to play them except for a bit of fun between serious gambling.
No money management overcomes a house advantage; it just hides it for a while until we forget our last experience.
That means for me I only play blackjack when I have a matchplay to give me the advantage. Once I knew that I was not a very good counter and did not want the hassle of spreading my bets and worrying about heat, I abandoned the game to more advantageous games.
If we are going to let yourself be ground down by house advantage, then perhaps we can arrange for the comps to offset that mathematical advantage of the house.
This was my point when I mentioned Jean Scott.
As advantage VP dries up, she recommends that players at least look for promotions that add enough value to the gambling that the freebie overcomes the house advantage.This math is a lot harder to compute.
Knowing how long to play for a freebie is a tough skill to learn.
I do that often. That is why I concentrate my VP play in one casino and don't visit it again once I have left my free rooms. I also avoid playing a little money many times during a trip, and play all of it in one day (different casinos define different 24 hour days). That way my daily average looks high when they compute my next free room mailing, free play, free food, etc.
Jean Scott also argues in favor using matchplays and coupons. If you gamble with matchplays, and just move from place to place, you can have a huge player advantage. I did this in Foxwoods on the craps table using a $25 matchplay everytime I went there over one winter. It was wonderful to have a huge advantage on each of those bets, and it netted me hundreds of dollars over the course of my couponing. They have since eliminated the coupon from the ACG book.
Also, you can choose games with the best rules, and in blackjack that means fewer decks and all the things in the chart.
There was a site that I used to have that charted the house advantage on all Vegas BJ games and posted the results, changing data as the games changed, but I guess it is down.
With a little work you can get a good computation on this calculator, plugging in all the rule changes and the number of decks.
Okay, I got to get some sleep. Tomorrow is poker day at the Tampa Downs.
Well, I suppose Cousin Frank along with Greg has stopped reading now too, but here is information I encountered in my last two days of reading that
adds more breaking news to the rest of the blackjack story.
You might pass it on to your cousin if he hasn't already worn out his reading glasses with all I shared last time.
Listening to Steve Bourie of American Casino Guide give a pod cast overview of Tunica (where I am headed next,) I learned that all of Tunica offers the single deck 3/2 blackjack game the two Frank's tell us does not exist. Cousin Frank perhaps has not played there, but Scoblete should know those exist and tip us off. But then it might make his piece on myth building something more than a tabloid half truth generality.
Cousin Frank might like mixing up his 39 years in Vegas with a bit of Mississippi. It is supposed to be a great venue for us older folks, good old fashioned gambling, good service, and good prices. Comps are so incredible that no one on the boards knows any of the prices of the rooms. Once you pay the first time, they tell me, you just keep getting free rooms for future trips. There are even some free junkets including airfare for gamblers out of my league bu perhaps not out of cousin't Franks.
Here is the menu of American Casino Guide podcasts; skim for Tunica:
While there take a listen to the Linda Boyd interview on . She is a board friend of mine who has written a great book on video poker with a fine, player friendly strategy. She gave me free rooms in Laughlin the last time I went ( comps certainly pay off ) and moderates this board:
She can also educate on player advantage games that free us up from playing against the house advantage grind and leave us victim only to our own errors of play.
NEW GOLD SPIKE MAY HAVE SINGLE DECK
Currently Low minimum black jack players are watching the newly renovated Gold Spike in downtown Vegas which has gone from the pits to become upscale boutique. They will deal a low minimum 3/2 blackjack, but no word yet on the number of decks.
Check out the new Gold Spike upgrade here: