John Grochowski

John Grochowski

Slot machines have more similarities to table games than many players realize. Odds and the house edge work in much the same way: Games are designed so that random results and normal probability will work toward an expected house edge.

Slots and tables have their differences, too. That’s something Blackjack Bob has been thinking about during his casino hiatus. As of June 12, 621 casinos in 29 states had reopened, with four more states planning to reopen in the following week.

Bob doesn’t live in one of the reopened states. “Truth be told, I’m not ready to rejoin even reduced crowds,” he said.

As a diversion, he’s been thinking about a banned slot feature and how it might translate to tables.

“I’m intrigued by secondary decisions,” he said via video chat.

Secondary decisions on slots are illegal in regulated U.S. jurisdictions. There once were slots that determined first if you had a winning spin. If the spin was a winner, the result stood. If it was not a winner, then a secondary decision was made to determine what losing combination to show on the reels.

It’s never been legal for a machine to make a secondary decision that would turn a winner into a loser, or even a lesser winner.

So why would Bob think about taking the concept to the tables? Here’s our exchange.

BOB: Slot odds work a lot like tables, or so you’ve said. We’ve seen some slot concepts taken to tables, like the progressive jackpots on Caribbean Stud and side bets on some other games. So I thought, “What would a secondary decision look like on a table game?”

JOHN: Any conclusions?

BOB: It’s complicated because table players see all the results as they’re happening. If I hit hard 16 in blackjack, I see right away if the next card busts me. Craps players all see the roll happening. Slots players don’t see the result until the machine shows it to them. If it was legal, slots could have a secondary result substitute for a primary result without ever knowing it was happening.

JOHN: I know you. No doubt you’ve come up with work-arouinds.

BOB: Of course. What would be the fun of stopping at first problem?

In blackjack, I thought about dealing two cards for every hit. I hit 16 and then I draw a 5 and a 9. You could randomly decide which one counts. One way would be another deck made up of Aces and 2s. An Ace would tell me I get the first draw, and a 2 would mean the second draw counts. Or you could just do it with an RNG and electronic display.

JOHN: You know casinos wouldn’t like that, right? It would slow down the game to fewer hands per hour, and the house edge would be the same.

BOB: I didn’t say these were practical, just kind of fun. Anyway, the one I really like is craps.

JOHN: What happens in craps?

BOB: You have two shooters at once, rolling toward opposite ends. Lots of action. You could even have bonus pays if they roll the same number. But after they’ve both rolled, then you have your secondary decision on which one counts.

One rolls a 7, one rolls a 6. Everybody at the table is on edge. Do I win, or is it seven out?

What do you think?

JOHN: I think we need to get you back to a blackjack table.

BOB: (Laughs.) Sure, But I really do like that craps idea. I might even play it.

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