Don't Try These in the Casino!

            We are all familiar with the phrase that “nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  This quote is quite important to the world of gambling.  As I discussed in last week’s column, even when the Player has an advantage over the casino in a particular game, it does NOT mean that he will always walk away a winner.  In similar fashion, not every bad gambling idea leads to an immediate loss.  Even if you choose to hit a 20 while playing blackjack, every so often you WILL hit an Ace and it will help you win when you would otherwise lose (well technically it can only help you push when you would have lost or win when you would have pushed).  But, the bottom line is, even if it works out once in a while – it still doesn’t make it a good idea.

            This week, I’m going to look at a few “common” bad ideas that you will see when you walk into a casino.

1.  Splitting 10’s into a bust card
            The Dealer has a 4, 5 or 6 up and you’ve got a pair of 10’s.  The dealer is going to bust anyhow, so why not split up your 10’s and draw two more 10’s and crush the house.  Well, first of all, if you split the first two 10’s and you draw two more, you’d split again!  If it’s a good idea the first time, it must be a good idea the 2nd time too! 

            What makes this one so dangerous is that in the end, it IS a winning proposition.  The problem is, relative to just holding the 20, it is a TERRIBLE decision.  If you were dealt 100,000 Pair of 10’s (against a 6) and were to just stick as you are supposed to, you would win 67,600 units.  This means you win the hand almost 84% of the time.  If you decide to get split happy and just keep splitting 10’s, you’ll win a total of about 30,700 units or less than half as much – all while risking more than 3 times as much money.  So, it might feel the good the once in a while when the Dealer busts and you win 3 or 4 hands at once.  But when the Dealer winds up with a 17, 18 or 19 and you realize you just below a good hand for 2 or 3 or 4 lousy ones, the euphoria will quickly disappear.  No matter how you slice it, your bankroll will suffer in the long run.

2.  Playing a Jack High hand in Three Card Poker
            Several years ago, I was sitting out a Three Card Poker table when a woman told another Player that generally she plays only a Queen High, but once in a while you can beat the Dealer with a Jack High hand.  Actually, NO, you can’t.  If you have a Jack high hand, the only way you ‘win’ is if the Dealer does not Qualify.   In this case, your Play wager will push and your Ante wager will win.  This will happen 5,277 of the 18,424 possible Dealer hands.  You will be wagering 2 units in the hopes of winning one and it will occur far less than 30% of the time.

            With 18,424 possible Dealer hands, if you fold, you will lose 18,424 units.  If you Play, you will risk 36,848 units and win back only 15,831 for a net loss of just over 21,000 units.  It may be painful to Fold and if you do Fold, you will NEVER get paid any ‘winners’ for a Jack High hand, but your bankroll WILL thank you because it will last that much longer.

3.   Betting 4x only on Pairs when Playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em (UTH)
            Proper strategy for UTH calls for betting 4x on a significant number of hands.  The strategy DOES include Pairs of 3’s or better, but also includes any hand with an Ace and a variety of Suited and Unsuited Hands with a Jack or better (full full list, go to my website  I’ve heard of Players playing properly while Dealers tell them they are playing too aggressively.   The payback of UTH is 99.25% when you use Expert Strategy.  If you choose to bet 4x ONLY when you are dealt a Pair of 3’s or better, the payback goes down about 3% to 96.25%.  Put another way, the house advantage increases 400%!

            One could say that casino games are developed with these types of ‘traps’.  But the reality is that they are only traps if you fall into them.  The proper strategy is readily found for virtually every casino game.  You can either choose to learn them or follow your own bad idea. 

            Check out my website at for tips on how to play many table games.