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Good Rules and Bad Rules
by Frank Scoblete

      To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it will be the best of times or the worst of times -- at the casinos, that is, this millennium depending on which games you play, which rules apply at those games, and how, indeed, you play those games. In just about every table game there are better and worse rules or payouts that can apply. Play in games with the good rules and you have a good chance of winning some money; play in games with the bad rules and you don’t have as good a chance to take home the money. That’s an easy rule to remember for the new year.
     So what should you look for? 
     At blackjack, perhaps the most complicated game in the casino, there are a host of different rules, some good, some bad, and some simply awful. Here what you should look for:

Good rules/conditions for the “basic strategy” players:
Double on any first two cards
Split all pairs
Double after splits
Resplitting allowed
Double after resplitting
Resplitting aces allowed
Dealer stands on soft 17
Blackjack pays 3 to 2
Bonus hands with no side bet
Shallow penetration
Crowded tables

Here’s what you should avoid:
Bad rules/conditions for the “basic strategy” players:
Restricted doubling, usually on two-card 10 or 11 only
No pair splitting allowed
No resplitting allowed
No doubling after splits
Dealer hits soft 17
Blackjack pays 6 to 5
Blackjack pays even money
Bonus hands require a side bet
Deep penetration
Empty tables
Automatic shufflers
Automatic continuous shufflers

      You will note that I put “shallow penetration” as a “good condition.” If you read publications geared to card counters or even general interest gambling publications, you’ll note that “deep penetration” (penetration being how far the dealer deals into the deck or shoe) is considered the single most important factor for success. Deep penetration is what card counters want; the fewer cards behind the “shuffle card” the better. However, there are only 1,100 card counters, out of 53,000,000 casino gamblers (that’s one card counter for every 53 thousand casino players!) in America. Just about 99.99+ percent of blackjack players do not benefit from deep penetration; just the opposite. Deep penetration means more hands played; more hands played means more money lost for 99.9999 percent of the blackjack players - and more money won by the casinos. So unless you are among the small elite of blackjack players, you want to play at casinos with shallow penetration.

      Luckily, many casino executives are so frightened that one of those 1,100 card counters might show up in their places that you’ll find shallow penetration in most casinos across the land. That’s good.

      The game of craps is perhaps the most exciting game in the casino. While all craps games are the same in terms of their procedures, not all are the same in term of their payouts. For example, in Atlantic City, you can buy the 4 or 10 for $35, paying a $1 commission. That translates into an approximately 3 percent house edge. However, in Tunica you can only buy the 4 or 10 for $25, paying that same $1 commission. You would think Atlantic City is offering the better deal. Well, think again, because it isn’t. You see, in Tunica (and in most Vegas casinos), you only pay your $1 commission if the bet wins, while in Atlantic City, you pay whether the bet wins or loses. The house edge in Tunica is therefore about 1.3 percent, much better than Atlantic City.

      The Field is generally a bad bet, coming in as it does with a 5.26 percent edge in favor of the house. Most casinos pay 2 to 1 on the 2 and 12. However, some casinos will pay 3 to 1 on the 12 (or sometimes the 2) - which reduces the house edge in half on the Field bet.

      The most glaring example of difference in craps games comes when we look at the “odds” bet. Some casinos, mostly cruise ships and the like, only allow single odds behind your Pass Line or on your Come bets; while most American casinos allow double odds. However, some casinos allow 3X, 5X 10X, 20X and even 100X odds. The difference between single odds and 100X odds is staggering - if you can afford to take 100 times your line bets that is.

      Roulette is a game of numbers, two of which are green, the 0 and the 00. If you can find a roulette wheel with only one green 0, you reduce the house edge from 5.26 to 2.7 percent. If you can find casinos that allow you to “surrender” your even-money bets (odd/even, red/black, high/low) when the green zero(s) hit, you reduce the edge further in half. Not bad at all.

      So, as a new millennium resolution we want you to repeat after us: “I will look for the games with the good rules and the good payouts in the 21st Century.” Happy Age of Aquarius!

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author. His books and tapes have sold over a million copies. He is executive director of Golden Touch Craps dice-control seminars. His websites are www.scoblete.com and www.goldentouchcraps.com . For a free brochure or more information call: 1-800-944-0406 or write to: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.

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