John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

Q. I was wondering about craps tables and free odds. Most of the casinos near me have 3x, 4x, 5x odds. That seems to be standard around here. When I travel, I’ve seen 5x, 10x, sometimes 100x odds.

Why doesn’t everyone offer the 100x odds and be done with it? The odds are an even bet, right? The house doesn’t lose money on them and players have to make the pass and come bets to get the odds, so the house still gets its edge.

I mean, if I bet $10 on pass, the house is going to get that same 1.41 percent of $10 regardless of whether I bet another $30 in odds or another $1,000 in odds.

A. Your point would be valid if all players used the odds as an extra bet and made the same other wagers regardless of how much they bet on odds.

However, that’s not all there is to it. Smart players reduce their pass and come bets to accommodate more odds. If a player had been taking 3x, 4x, 5x odds while betting $25 on passes, then reduces the pass bet to $10 to accommodate some larger portion of 100x odds, then the house take is 1.41 percent of $10 instead of 1.41 percent of $25.

When more odds are offered, players also might reduce or eliminate other wagers. With less money tied up in odds, a player might make additional place bets, and the less-than-cautious might also bet hard ways and one-roll propositions despite their high house edges. If the same player can bet more in odds, he might pull back on those bets, leaving less profit for the house.

Casinos in competitive environments have to make a decision. Offering more odds might bring in more players. It also might reduce wagers on propositions that have house edges. The casino has to analyze its data and decide which brings more profit.

In less competitive environments, the incentive to offer more odds is small. Casinos would rather a bigger portion of your overall wagers be on propositions with a house edge.

Q. I played at one of those blackjack tables where a dealer dealt the cards, but you bet by touching the screen. All the payoffs were automatic. As soon as the hand was over, the credits were added or deducted from your screen.

I still like handling the chips myself, but I liked this better than I thought I would. It was all pretty easy and didn’t intrude on the game. Can you think of any negatives for players?

A. I like handling chips, too, but touch-screen betting has its advantages. Payoff mistakes are all but eliminated. The dealer isn’t going to take your chips by mistake, nor are you going to be overpaid or underpaid.

Touch-screen betting also enables the casino to offer side bets that are paid as quickly as the main bet. Side bets almost always have a house edge higher than the main game, so I avoid them. But for players who like to chase bigger jackpots, the side bets can be offered without slowing the deal.

One thing that should leave players wary is that since the dealer doesn’t have to make payoffs, games with electronic betting move faster than games with chips. More hands per hour means faster losses for most players.

In blackjack, touch-screen payouts often require use of a card-reading shoe to relay results to the payout program. Card counters are wary of systems that have accurate records of wagers and of cards played, but for most players the main worry is speed of play.

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