John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. When you wrote about Casino Over Under, you mentioned that games needed to be easy to understand and easy to deal with an uncluttered layout.

What about craps? It's not any of those things. You can play for years and not understand all of the bets. There are different ways to bet all over the layout, and they have different payouts. A lot of the time, your bet isn't anywhere near you or even within your reach. Dealers have to keep track of all the different payouts and whose bet belongs to whom.

You'd probably say it's a mess, but it's also one of the most popular games.

A. Craps is a very old game, developing from the game of hazard that, according to legend, was played by English knights during the Crusades in 1125.

In its centuries of development, including its arrival to the New World in Louisiana in the early 1800s, it appears to have amalgamated several games into one. The central theme of betting on pass remained at the core, but other dice games that could be played simultaneously were appended.

Even before there was a standard layout, street craps players were making multiple bets.

Today's game and layout are products of that history. Efforts to streamline and simplify no doubt would meet with extreme player resistance. Players love the game the way it is.

But yes, it is a cluttered layout with rules that aren't as easy for a beginner to pick up as Three Card Poker or Casino Over Under.

If craps didn't exist until now, and a game developer presented casinos with the layout and rules we know and love, he'd be told to simplify it and come back with something easier to understand and deal.

Q. Blackjack game near me is six decks, dealer hits soft 17, double on any first two cards, double after split, split up to three times except split Aces only once.

Pretty ordinary, but one little twist. It offers late surrender. I looked at the basic strategy table, and it says to surrender hard 16 when the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace, and to surrender hard 15 against 10 or Ace.

How much do I gain with by surrendering?

A. When you surrender, you forfeit half your bet and keep half instead of playing out the hand, so anytime you surrender, you lose 50 cents for every dollar wagered?

Let's look at the average losses if you hit instead, while noting that if your 16 is 8-8, you should split the pair instead of hitting or surrendering:

**16 vs. Ace: 54.0 cents if your 16 is 10-6; 53.8 cents with 9-7.

**16 vs. 10: 53.5 cents with either 10-6 or 9-7.

**16 vs. 9: 50.5 cents with 10-6 or 9-7.

**15 vs. Ace: 51.0 cents with 10-5; 50.9 cents with 9-6; 50.3 cents with 8-7.

**15 vs. 10: 50.4 cents with 10-5; 50.5 cents with 9-6; 49.98 cents with 8-7.

Note that last one carefully. I carried it to an extra decimal so it wouldn't just round to 50 cents and make surrendering vs. standing a standoff.

The difference is tiny, but it is a slightly better play to hit a 15 consisting of an 8 and a 7 instead of surrendering.

All the other situations show higher losses than 50 cents per dollar wagered if you hit. For all those, the better play is to surrender if permitted -- surrender hard 16 (except 8-8) vs. 9, 10 or Ace, and surrender hard 15 vs. 10 or Ace, except hit 8-7 vs. 10.

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