John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. If the player next to me doubles for less, is it profitable for me to throw him a chip to make up the difference? Then if the bet wins, I keep the chip I gave him plus the winnings equivalent to my chip.

A. As long as the double down comes on a hand in which doubling is the correct basic strategy play, then yes, it is a profitable move to make up the difference when someone else doubles for less.

The hands designated as double down hand on basic strategy charts all are hands in which the player has the edge and should take full advantage with the extra bet. Players win those hands more often than they lose.

Just be sure the dealer and the other player know exactly what you’re doing, ask the player and dealer, “Can I take the rest of that double?” before you push out your chip. You might sometimes encounter a player who doesn’t want you in on his hand.

Q. I’m new to craps, so please explain something. I noticed the table didn't have an odds box on the table for the pass bets (nor for the come bets). Is that common? Does that mean they don't offer the free odds? If I have to ask, is it a simple "$5 odds on pass/come," or how do I tell the dealer I want odds on pass/come?

A. It’s not at all unusual for a casino not to mark out separate spaces for free odds. The place where it notes available odds is the placard on one corner of the table that notes minimum and maximum bets and other conditions specific to that table.

When you want to bet free odds on a pass bet, you wait until a point is established, then place your odds bet behind your pass bet. When the dealer sees that bet backing your pass bet, he knows it’s an odds bet and words are unnecessary.

It’s a little different with come bets. There, you do have to give the dealer verbal information. Let’s say you have a come bet and the shooter rolls a 6. The dealer will move your come bet to the 6 box.

You make a free odds bet by placing chips in the come box and telling the dealer, “Odds on my come,” or “Odds on my 6.” The dealer then will move those chips to the 6 box, positioning them both to indicate your position at the table and which chips are the come bet and which are the odds.

That’s all business as usual. Free odds aren’t mentioned on the layout, but they’re available.

Q. I told a co-worker I wouldn’t play 6-5 blackjack, and he said, “It’s not ideal, but blackjack still is the best game in the house.” Is that true?

A. Dropping blackjack payoff to 6-5 adds 1.4 percent to the house edge. Craps pass or come bets with odds have house edges of less than 1 percent, and baccarat bets on banker (1.06 percent) and player (1.24 percent) also have house edges lower that 1.4 percent.

And that’s just from that one rule. Most 6-5 blackjack tables have house edges higher than 2 percent, about in line with Three Card Poker ante-play (2.01 percent) and higher than many video poker games.

So no, 6-5 blackjack is not the best game in the house.

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