John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. Your column on superstitions got me thinking, I don't know if it's superstition or not, but in general, I will not consciously go back to a machine that I played no matter the result on the same day.

If I win a significant amount (for me that's $50 or more on slots and it varies on video poker depending on the denomination), I will make it a point to avoid that machine for the rest of the day, even though I know that my win doesn't change the probability.

Conversely, if I seem to be losing at every machine I play on a given day, I will seek out games that I usually don't play because of prior bad luck, kind of a reverse luck mentality.

With VP, I usually play Bonus Poker and I love Deuces Wild, but I will switch to either less volatile Jacks or Better or more volatile Double (or Double Double) Bonus just to change my luck.

Without believing that any of this changes anything, I think it's just searching for the lucky spin that is out there waiting for me to press.

A. Thanks for the story. I always appreciate readers sharing their experiences.

You're correct in that your method makes no difference in the probability of winning or losing. Returning or not returning to a game is a matter of personal preference.

Q. I'm new to craps, and I like to bet the field. Other players were telling me it's a bad bet. Can you explain?

A. I've explained the field bet before, but it's been a few years and new readers are coming on board all the time. So let's walk through it.

The field is a one roll bet. You win even money if the shooter rolls 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11. You also win on 2 or 12, and there's a bonus. At some casinos, the payoff is 2-1 on either 2 or 12. At many, it's 2-1 on 2 and 3-1 on 12. At a few, especially in northern Nevada, it's 3-1 on 2 and 2-1 on 12.

There are 36 possible roll combinations of two six-sided dice. One is a 2, two are 3s, three are 4s, four are 9s, three are 10s, two are 11s and one is a 12. That gives you 16 possible winning rolls.

The three most frequent rolls — six ways to make 7 and five each to make 6 or 8 — are losers. Also a loser is 5, with four combinations.

Your 16 winning possibilities are more than offset by 20 losers.

If you bet $1 per roll and each combination came up once, you would risk $36. You'd get back the $16 wagered on winners, along with $1 on each of the 14 rolls that are 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11, and either $2 each on 2 and 12 or $2 on one and $3 on the other.

Add in the winnings, and at the end of the trial you have either $34 or $35 of your original $36. The house has $2 if both 2 and 12 pay 2-1, for a house edge of 5.56 percent. If one or the other pays 3-1, the house has $1, and the edge is 2.78 percent.

If you wish to accept that, it's you're choice, but there are lower-edge bets at craps. Pass or come (1.41 percent), don't pass and don't come (1.36) and place bets on 6 and 8 (1.52) are among the best. They're multiroll bets, where the field is a single-roll wager that requires a fresh risk for every roll.

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