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What is Gambatria?
It is a combination of Gambling and Gematria, which is a system whereby numerical values are assigned to letters and/or words. Gematria usually provides two meanings – the ‘revealed’ form which is the straight numerical equivalent of the word and the ‘mystical’ form generally associated with Kaballah (the mystical branch of Judaism that so engrossed Madonna!) This applies to gambling too. Parts of the math are quickly and easily revealed like the payback. Then there are the parts like the strategy and what to expect that take on a more ‘mystical’ flavor.
The company was founded by Lenny Frome, who revolutionized the casino by developing the first analyses and strategies for video poker. He also had a hand in developing many of the table games you see on the casino floor. Working hand in hand with inventors by refining the math and strategy, Lenny assisted in the creation of Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Spanish 21 and Caribbean Stud Poker.
Since 1998 when Lenny passed away, the company has been run by his son, Elliot Frome. Elliot has made his own marks in the industry by helping to launch Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker, Mississippi Stud, House Money, Boston 7 Stud, Six Card Pai Gow and Imperial Pai Gow.
My column a few weeks ago about commission-free Baccarat and commission-free Pai Gow Poker prompted a reader to send me an e-mail asking for advice on how to improve his play at Baccarat. The simple reality is that I could not provide him with any advice. Baccarat has no strategy. Sometimes when I say that, it means that there is sort of no strategy. For example, in Casino War, the only choice the Player can make is whether to go to war when the Player and Dealer card tie. Mathematically, the Player should always go to war, so in essence there is no strategy. The Player IS given a choice of what to do, but the choice is always the same, so is there really any strategy? I'll leave that to the philosophers and people who wonder about trees falling in the forest.
Despite being around casinos since I was about 14 years old, I have to admit that it was only the past decade or so that I learned anything about Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat. All I knew about Baccarat was that James Bond seemed to like to play it and apparently you play it for a lot of money. With 007 playing it, I always assumed it was a game a lot like blackjack which relied on a good deal of strategy and potentially card counting, which would be why the suave super spy loved it so much. Little did I know that it is a game of essentially no strategy, albeit there are some similarities to blackjack.
What is the allure of sidebets? I'm not sure if there any blackjack tables that exist without at least one sidebet. It is almost hard to remember the days when you say down to play blackjack and there is was only one circle on the table. There's the ago old question about which came first the chicken or the egg. I wonder the same thing about sidebets. Was it casinos that wanted them to increase their profits or was it Players who wanted them to increase their chances to win big even on relatively low volatility games like blackjack.