John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. What do you do when you’re being harassed by another player?

I was using a Hi-Lo count at blackjack and got into a big positive count. I stood on 16 against a dealer’s 10, and this other player started in on me. He asked if I ever hit 16s against 10s, and I said sometimes. He said, “When is it isn’t the right play? The book says to hit that hand.”

I just let it go. I want the house to think I’m playing by gut, and I don’t want to tell anyone I’m standing because the count says so.

He really let me have it later on when I insured a blackjack. I don’t most of the time, but like I said, the count was favorable. But I got an earful over how I should buy the book and study it, that I’d do better and other players would be happier, too,

I wasn’t going to leave until the count turned, but man, listening to all that was a pain in the rear.

A. We’ve all encountered players who want to give unwanted advice. Your attempt to brush it off without explanation is how I try to handle the situation, and from there I try to ignore it as best I can.

There have been times I’ve tried to distract them by enlisting their help. I’ll ask, “What would you do with this hand?” If their advice is not what I want to do with the hand, I’ll say, “I suppose that might be best, but I’m not feeling it.” Then I’ll make the play I want to.

That makes it a game for me, and I relax and have a little fun with it instead of letting the would-be adviser bother me.

If the other player is particularly aggressive or abusing, I might change tables. But as you say, the count gave you good reason to stay at that time.

Q. I found a Three Card Poker game with a side bet called Prime. It paid 3-1 if all your cards were the same color, and 4-1 you cards and the dealer’s were all the same color.

Is that a good bet?

A. For the answer, I turned to WizardOfOdds.com, where Michael Shackelford has an analysis on his Three Card Poker page.

Note that the rules specify cards of the same color, not necessarily as the same suit. So a mix of hearts and diamonds constitute all red cards, and a mix of clubs and spades constitute all black. There is no bonus for all cards being in the same suit.

You win with a six-card match on 2.26 percent of hands, with a three-card player hand match on 21.27 percent and lose on 76.47 percent.

The house edge is 3.62 percent. That fits in with the better side bets on casino games, such as 21 + 3 at blackjack with a house edge of 3.24 percent or baccarat’s Dragon Bonus, at 2.65 percent on the player hand. There are many side bets with much higher edges, such as 9.37 percent on the Dragon Bonus on the banker hand or blackjack’s Lucky Ladies, ranging from about 12 to 30 percent, depending on specific payoffs and number of decks.

I usually avoid side bets. In Three Card Poker, I’d rather put my money on ante-play with a house edge of 2.01 percent of total action. But if you want a bet that will pay several times your wager and are willing to put up with a little higher house edge, Prime is better than most side bets.