John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Q. In video keno, are you better off playing the same numbers every time or changing them up?

I like to bet hot numbers. If I see a number come up two or three times in a row, I include it in my set. If I see three numbers come up twice in a row, I bet them in a three spot.

My niece works the other way. She figures if her numbers didn’t come up this time, they’re more likely next time or the time after that and are due to come up eventually.

A. The house edge is the same either way. There is no tendency for hot numbers to stay hot, nor are numbers that haven’t come up recently ever due to hit.

Results are determined by a random number generator and every number has an equal chance to be drawn on every play. Past results do not influence future outcomes.

If there’s an advantage for one method over the other, it’s that choosing new numbers for each play takes extra time. You’ll play fewer games per hour if you choose new numbers than if you hit the repeat bet button. Faster play benefits whoever has the edge on the game, and in video keno that’s always the house.

Q. The casino near me has a couple of those one-player video blackjack games where blackjacks pay only even money. That’s not good, but I figure the payback has to be higher than on the penny slots my wife plays.

It’s one deck, the dealer stands on all 17s, you can double only on hard 10 or 11 with no soft doubling and no doubling after splits, and you can split any pair only once with no resplits.

How bad is it?

A. 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.

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.

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