A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. I was at a blackjack table and one dealer was exposing his hole card on every hand. When he rotated off our table, I was really tempted to follow him, but I resisted.
I don’t want to get into a whole thing about whether I should or shouldn’t have told him he was tipping his card. I just want to know if there’s any special strategy to follow when you can see both dealer cards.
A. The strategy would mostly be the same as for Double Exposure blackjack, a game in which all cards, including the dealer’s, are dealt face up. The house keeps an edge in Double Exposure by paying only even money on blackjacks. If you’re at a table where you see both dealer cards and you get paid 3-2 on blackjacks, then you have an edge on the game.
Strategy tables for Double Exposure are available at WizardOfOdds.com/games/double-exposure/. However, some of these plays are dead giveaways when the exposure is unintentional. If you hit 17, 18 or 19 when the dealer has a 10 showing and you know he has 20, it’s going to set off alarms in the pit.
If you stand on 15 when the dealer shows a 10 but you know he has 16, you probably won’t set off those alarms. Dealers and supervisors see players stand on 15 vs. 10 every day. They don’t see players hit 19 vs. a 10.
I know you didn’t want to discuss whether to use exposed card information or to tell the dealer, but let’s discuss it anyway. Courts have repeatedly held that players have the right to use the information offered by exposed dealer cards.
Some players alert the dealer anyway, and the house certainly would prefer that you tell. But if you want to take advantage of the situation, that’s your call.
Q. When you talk about side bets, there’s a lot about blackjack and sometimes other games like baccarat and Three Card Poker. I never see craps mentioned. Are there side bets in craps?
A. There are many side bets in craps, although not as many casinos use them as in blackjack.
In blackjack, side bets are used to provide an extra betting option to attract increased action.
Craps already has a large variety of bets with a wide range of payoffs and house edges. It already has a 30-1 payoff on 12 or a 15-1 return on yo-leven, so it doesn’t need the equivalent of a 9-1 payoff on 21 + 3 to spice things up.
Nevertheless, side bets pop up at craps from time to time, One is the Fire Bet, in which you’re wagering the shooter will make at least four different points before sevening out. There are several pay tables, but in one, you’re paid 24-1 if the shooter makes four different points, 249-1 for five points and 999-1 if he makes all six.
All are long shots. The shooter will make four different points less than 1 percent of the time — 0.88 percent. That drops to 0.16 percent for five points and 0.016 percent for all six.
Depending on pay table, the house edge ranges from about 20 to 25 percent.
There are other craps side bets, such as four rolls, no 7 — just what it says — or 7 point 7, where you win if the shooter rolls 7 on the comeout or if he establishes a point and sevens out on the second roll. But again, use of these is nowhere near as common as 21 + 3 or Lucky Ladies in blackjack.