Winning Tips

Blackjack: How to Avoid the Casino’s Psychological Traps

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Player Strategy

Blackjack: How to Avoid the Casino’s Psychological Traps

No matter how good a blackjack player you think you are, you will eventually experience a losing session. How you manage yourself when this happens is just as important as knowing when to double down and split.

Sometimes players’ lose their money because of their lack of self-control caused by the exciting atmosphere in a casino. I wrote about this in my book, The Ten Best Casino Bets. Here’s what I had to say about this.

“When you enter a casino, you are entering a place of business. Moreover, like all successful businesses, the casinos are run by shrewd businesspeople whose job is first, to keep you playing and happy, and second, to separate you from your money as quickly and painlessly as possibly. To meet these objectives, they create an atmosphere in the casino that can be described as a “Disneyland for adults.” No clocks to let you know it’s time to leave this utopia, no windows to let you see out to the real world, free drinks at the tables, free lounge shows, and, of course, plenty of pretty girls to keep you happy and playing. And what happens to the gambler when he enters this casino-designed excitement? For him, the rewards of winning all of the casino’s money far outweigh the risks of losing his meager bankroll. Moreover, this exciting atmosphere makes it easy for the average player to feel lucky and go for broke at the chance of winning the jackpot. First, and foremost, in order to be a winner, you must learn to control your emotions in the casino. As casino gambling author Lyle Stuart succinctly put it, “The real struggle when you are playing is, in most cases, not between you and the casino, but between you and yourself.” You will find plenty of temptations to keep you playing and losing; therefore, you must develop a sense of timing or awareness (i.e. discipline) of when to play, and more importantly, when to quit.”

 

Here are some specific tips that you can use to avoid the casino’s psychological traps that doom players into losing.

 

  1. If you are tired from a long drive or flight, now is not the best time to hit the tables. Play only when you are rested and alert.
  2. Watch the alcohol consumption when you play. From the casino’s perspective, there’s a reason why they offer players free alcoholic drinks (if you don’t know the reason, I’d strongly recommend you stay away from the blackjack tables).
  3. If you get ahead, don’t be caught in the trap of thinking that you are betting with the “casino’s money.” Once the chips go from the casino’s chip tray to your side of the table, that’s now your money and not the casino’s.
  4. Keep track of time and set reasonable win goals. Unless you are a card counter, the odds are stacked against you so be content with a modest win. If you manage to get ahead by, say, 30% or more of your starting bankroll, pocket half of your profit plus what you started with, and play with the rest. This way, even if you lose “the rest,” you’ll still be able to go home with a profit.
  5. Set a stop loss … and discipline yourself to stop playing if you reach it. You have nothing to be ashamed of if you have a losing session. The casinos will always be open for you to try your luck again, hopefully, with better results.
  6. There’s a reason that you bet chips and not cash in a casino. If you were to put down a couple of ten- or twenty-dollar bills on the felt as a bet, you might think twice about doing it. However, once your cash is converted to chips, players often lose sight of the fact that those chips represent hard-earned money. Betting chips rather than cash makes it easy for players to over bet their bankroll, resulting in a quick and painful losing session.
  7. The odds of winning the next hand don’t change just because you lost the previous hands. If you run into a buzz-saw dealer, who consistently draws to 20 and 21 and beats the table, quit, and take a break. Relax, catch your breath, and try your luck at another table.

 

If you heed the above advice, you’ll become a much better disciplined blackjack player, and more likely to experience additional winning sessions.

By: Henry Tamburin

 

Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of the smartgaming.com website and the editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter (for a free three-month subscription, visit www.bjinsider.com/freetrial). He also teaches a blackjack course featuring Speed Count. For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards, and software for casino players, call toll free 1-888-353-3234, or visit the web store at smartgaming.com.

Player Strategy No Limit Hold’em: Judgement is Everything

“It’s not who wins the battle; it’s who wins the war.”

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In NLH all manner of plays are possible. You can fold K-K before the flop or move all-in with 2-7 off suit, bluffing before the flop, if your judgement is good enough. By the way, I’ve folded K-K before the flop only a few times in my life, and every time I did, I was right, because my opponent did indeed have A-A! One thing you’ll learn as you play more poke is that when someone has the best possible hand, he is often easily readable.

Quiz show hosts like to say, when the pauses are too protracted, “Go with your first gut instinct. That first instinct is always right.” You’ll find yourself in a lot of interesting situation in NLH where your judgement and your guts will be severely tested. Whether or not you make the right decisions will go far toward determining whether or not you’ll win for the day (it helps to have good cards too). You think that you’re under pressure at work? I’ve seen players who have all their money in the world on the table call other players’ bluffs for all their money. It other words, if they’re wrong, the they’re busted!

One excellent rule for NLH is this: if you can’t allow yourself to fold the best hand, then you can’t win. In many of the tournaments that I’ve won I’ve had occasion to fold the winning hand. In the World Championships in 1989, when just four players were left, I folded pocket tens before the flop against Johnny Chan’s pockets nines in a big pot, but I still went on to win the tournament! It’s not who wins the battle; it’s who wins the war. Don’t be afraid to fold your hand in NLH if you think that it’s beaten. If it was the winner, so what? You made your decision, and you’re still at the table with chips. Stay focused on winning, not on looking back at your untimely fold.

Phil’s NLH Strategy:

I like to take pieces of every different strategy I’ll be laying out below and keep them in my arsenal for eventual use. I like to stick to a very tight beginner-type overall strategy, one involving playing very few hands for the most part. In this way, there isn’t too much pressure on me to make tough decisions all the time. So most of the time in NLH I like to play only the “NLH fifteen” hands.

When someone behind me is playing too tightly, in NLH, I like to raise the pot to try to steal the blinds from him, whenever it’s his big blind.

I trust my instincts when I’m deciding whether or not a player is bluffing. My poker instincts have been very, very good to me. I hone these instincts by practicing reading my opponents when I’m out of the hand being played, to try to get a better read on them for when I need it later. (In mentioning my own play I’m trying only to show you what’s possible if you practice and develop your instincts.)

If someone has raised in front of me and I feel that he is weak, I usually fold anyway. But at the end of the hand I’ll watch to see if he exposes his hole cards, so that I can confirm that he was weak or see that I was wrong. If I have confirmation that I was right, then I wait for him to do it again. Anyone who makes one weak raise can be expected to make more than one. When that player makes another raise and I feel it is weak, I go ahead and reraise him, to force him to fold his weak hand. This reraise wins many more chips than a mere blind steal would win, but you’re also risking a lot more chips to win the pot when you reraise on a bluff.

 

Phil Hellmuth Jr is  a 13-time World Series of Poker Champion, leading all other poker players in the world. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, and his latest book, “Deal me in,” is also widely popular. Visit philhellmuth.com to check out his clothing line, blog and exclusive gaming tips.

Three Card Poker: Strategy and Game Variations

THE ANTE-BET STRATEGY

Optimal strategy for Three Card Poker is about as easy as it gets. Make the extra bet to stay in the game if your hand is Queen-6-4 or better. Fold if you have a lesser hand.

 

That means you also bet on all pairs, flushes, straights, three of a kinds and straight flushes – those all outrank high-card hands. Note that in Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes. That’s because you see flushes more often than straights in three-card games. In five-card games, you get straights about twice as often as flushes, but in three-card games there are 1.5 times as many possible flushes as straights.

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If you don’t have any of those higher-ranking hands, then hands are ranked by highest card first, then second highest. If you have Jack-10-7, the proper strategy is to fold. It is not Queen-6-4 or better since the highest card is lower than the Queen.

 

If you hand is King-3-2, then you should make the bet. The King outranks the Queen, making this a better hand than Queen-6-4 even though the second and third cards are lower than the 6 and 4.

 

If you have a Queen as a high card, then the second card comes into consideration. Stay with Queen-7-2 or Queen-6-4, but not with Queen-5-4 or Queen-6-3.

 

With that strategy, the house edge on the ante-pay combo is 3.4 percent of the ante, or 2.0 percent when both the ante and bet are considered.

 

PAIR PLUS
If you think ante-bet is easy, then Pair Plus is a real snap. You don’t have to beat the dealer, and there is no strategy to learn. All you need is to match a hand on the pay table – a concept video poker players can identify with. You win on any hand that contains a pair or better, and lose if you don’t have at least a pair.

 

There are several pay tables available, but the most common pays 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for straights, 3-1 for flushes and even money for pairs. At that pay table, the house edge is 7.3 percent.

 

The payoffs aren’t as huge as you see on five-card games, but they are attainable. Anyone who plays very often will see the occasional straight flush or three of a kind. You’ll see the top hand, a straight flush, about once per 460 hands. Compare that to a five-card royal on a game such as Caribbean Stud. That occurs an average of once per 649,740-1. Caribbean Stud pays a lifestyle-changing progressive, but you may never see one in your lifetime. Three Card Poker pays a more modest sum, but $200 for a $5 bet is a nice win, and you’ll see straight flushes a lot more often with three cards.

 

THREE CARD POKER VARIATIONS
Some tables now offer a  6 Card Bonus bet. If you make the side bet, you’re wagering that your three cards plus the dealer’s three cards will yield a five-card poker hand of at least three of a kind. Strong hands are easier to attain than in straight five-card games because you have an extra card, and just ignore the sixth.

 

Several different pay tables are available for operators to choose from. One common one starts with a 5-1 payoff on three of a kind, and increases to 10-1 on straights, 15-1 on flushes, 25-1 on full houses, 50-1 on four of a kind, 200-1 on straight flushes and 1,000-1 on royals.

 

Also popular is a Three Card Poker Progressive. It’s a $1 side bet, and it also is offered in a couple of different pay tables. Commonly, payoffs start at $90 for three of a kind and increase to $100 for a straight flush, $500 for a mini-royal of Ace-King-Queen in the same suit, and a progressive jackpot if the mini-royal is in spades. If you get a mini-royal, all other players at the table also get an envy bonus – $25 on most mini royals, but $100 if it’s in spades.

 

 

FUN FACTS

  • Some Three Card Poker tables also add a mini-royal to the Pair Plus pay table, separating suited Ace-King-Queen out from other straight flushes. When a 50-1 mini-royal is added to the top of a pay table that yields 40-1 on straight flushes, 30-1 on three of a kind, 6-1 on straights, 3-1 on flushes and 1-1 on pairs, it drops the house edge from 7.3 percent to 7.1 percent.

 

  • The when both antes and bets are considered, the house edge of 2.01 percent on Three Three Card Poker ante-bet play is one of the lowest on proprietary table games. By comparison, the house edge on Caribbean Stud is 5.2 percent of the ante or 2.6 percent of total action, and on Let It Ride it’s 3.5 percent of one bet or 2.8 percent of total action.

 

  • The 21 + 3 side bet on blackjack involves a three-card hand consisting of a players first two cards and the dealer’s face up card, with any hand of a flush or better paying 9-1. Though similar to Three Card Poker, it is not distributed by Bally/Scientific Games. It belongs to Galaxy Gaming, which acquired it from Prime Table Games and Derek Webb – the originator of Three Card Poker.

 

Three Card Poker: On the Felt with Roger Snow

Roger Snow is the senior vice president at Bally Technologies and also a renowned table games inventor. We recently caught up with him to talk about the popular game of Three Card Poker, a game that inspired him in his career and one that resonates with players around the world.

 

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John Grochowski: Why do players love Three Card Poker?

Roger Snow: A, I think Three Card Poker really hits the fat part of the bell curve with players. First of all, it’s simple, which always helps. It’s not the only thing a game needs, but it’s really easy to understand. Secondly, the math is just magical. You hear about athletes that are genetically gifted. Well Three Card Poker is mathematically gifted, especially if you look at something like Pair Plus. Just the way the math works out, it’s any pair, not a pair of 7s, not a pair of 8s or better. It’s any pair. Hit frequency is about 25 percent, so that’s great. On a full table, you’ll almost always see somebody hit it. The other hands are relatively easy to make. Flushes, straights, even the top hand of a straight flush. You compare that to five-card games, you almost never will see the top two or three hands, but in Three Card Poker you do. They pay a little bit less, but they still pay 30-1, 40-1. Those are high quality payouts, they’re going to happen, and they’re very achievable.

 

JG: How is it different from other proprietary games?

RS: You have to put yourself back in 1995, 1996 when it came out. It really changed the way people thought about table games. Before that, the only two successful games were Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride, and they have a lot of bells and whistles on them. Caribbean Stud of course had the progressive and Let It Ride had the tournament, but they all had electronics, and they were really selling a life-changing award. Three Card Poker comes along and says, hey, I’m just colored circles on a felt, and my top award is 40-1, and it came in and just blew everything off the map.

 

From a game developer’s standpoint, that’s the one that I looked at. I don’t look at Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud, and that’s why the games that I’ve done aren’t really bell and whistle games. They’re just, “Hey, I’m going to try to put together a game with a mathematical formula that people like.”

 

JG: What should someone playing for the first time know about Three Card Poker?

RS:  First of all, the environment tends to be very social. It’s not combative, like blackjack can be, where people think if they don’t play right, people will yell at them – which is true. In Three Card Poker, with the dealer and the other players, it’s very social. The second thing is that people, when they play a game and risk their own money, they want to know the optimal way to play the game, if possible. Three Card Poker is very simple. If you have Queen-6-4 or better you play, if you don’t you fold. It’s a very easy strategy. I tell people to enjoy the side bets as well, Pair Plus, which is on every Three Card Poker table, and 6 Card Bonus, is on about half the Three Card Poker tables now, that’s only about three years old. That’s a great bet. The game didn’t need revitalizing, but it 6 Card Bonus really amped up the popularity of it.

Three Card Poker: No Bluffing Needed

threeCardpokerBannerIf any modern table game could be said to be an adopted son of the South, it’s Three Card Poker. Success in Mississippi eventually convinced casinos throughout the United States to give the game a try and today, it stands as a casino standard that every operator must have.

It is fun, easy to learn and gives players a decent chance to win.

 

HOW TO PLAY
Start by making an ante for player vs. the dealer and/or a bet on Pair Plus. At most casinos, you do not have to make both wagers. The ante and the Pair Plus wager can be of different sizes. They are separate bets, and are decided independently, so they don’t have to match.

 

After all players have made their wagers, each player gets three cards face down, and the dealer also gets three cards face down. Play continues after players have a chance to pick up their cards and look at them.

 

ANTE-BET PLAY VS. THE DEALER
After you’ve seen your cards, you may either make a bet equal to your ante, or you may fold and forfeit the hand. If you’ve anted $5, then your bet must also be $5 for you to stay in the game.

 

The dealer then turns his cards face up. If the dealer hand is at least a Queen or better, it is a qualifying hand. For you to win, your hand must outrank the dealer’s. If you win, both your ante and your bet are paid at even money, and if you lose, the dealer takes both your ante and bet.

 

If the dealer hand does not qualify and you’ve made the bet to stay in the game, then you win even money on the ante, but the bet is returned to you with no additional payoff.

 

In addition, there is a bonus for strong hands regardless of whether you beat the dealer or not. Most casinos pay a 5-1 bonus if you have a straight flush, 4-1 if you have three of a kind and even money if you have a straight.

 

For example, let’s say you ante $5, see you have a straight flush and follow with a $5 bet. Assuming you win the hand, you then collect winnings of $5 on the ante, $5 on the bet and $25 on the straight flush. On other wins that don’t include one of the big three hands, you’d collect $5 on the ante and another $5 on the bet.

 

THE ANTE-BET STRATEGY
Optimal strategy for Three Card Poker is about as easy as it gets. Make the extra bet to stay in the game if your hand is Queen-6-4 or better. Fold if you have a lesser hand.

 

That means you also bet on all pairs, flushes, straights, three of a kinds and straight flushes – those all outrank high-card hands. Note that in Three Card Poker, straights outrank flushes. That’s because you see flushes more often than straights in three-card games. In five-card games, you get straights about twice as often as flushes, but in three-card games there are 1.5 times as many possible flushes as straights.

 

If you don’t have any of those higher-ranking hands, then hands are ranked by highest card first, then second highest. If you have Jack-10-7, the proper strategy is to fold. It is not Queen-6-4 or better since the highest card is lower than the Queen.

 

If your hand is King-3-2, then you should make the bet. The King outranks the Queen, making this a better hand than Queen-6-4 even though the second and third cards are lower than the 6 and 4.

 

With that strategy, the house edge on the ante-pay combo is 3.4 percent of the ante, or 2.0 percent when both the ante and bet are considered.

 

PAIR PLUS
If you think ante-bet is easy, then Pair Plus is a real snap. You don’t have to beat the dealer, and there is no strategy to learn. All you need is to match a hand on the pay table – a concept video poker players can identify with. You win on any hand that contains a pair or better, and lose if you don’t have at least a pair.

 

There are several pay tables available, but the most common pays 40-1 for a straight flush, 30-1 for three of a kind, 6-1 for straights, 3-1 for flushes and even money for pairs. At that pay table, the house edge is 7.3 percent.

 

The payoffs aren’t as huge as you see on five-card games, but they are attainable. Anyone who plays very often will see the occasional straight flush or three of a kind. You’ll see the top hand, a straight flush, about once per 460 hands. Compare that to a five-card royal on a game such as Caribbean Stud. That occurs an average of once per 649,740-1. Caribbean Stud pays a lifestyle-changing progressive, but you may never see one in your lifetime. Three Card Poker pays a more modest sum, but $200 for a $5 bet is a nice win, and you’ll see straight flushes a lot more often with three cards. Good luck!

 

 

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VIDEO POKER: Boomerang

When I was in Australia a few years ago I noticed that although “pokies” (video poker) machines were quite popular that unlike the country’s famous boomerangs, player benefits didn’t always come back to frequent patrons. It caused me to ponder the differences between gambling in Oz and other worldwide gaming spots versus the advantages of remaining right here in the USA. So for those whose boomerang won’t come back elsewhere, here are some tips for accessing the bounce-back from their casino play.

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BLACKJACK: Should You Tip The Dealer?

shutterstock_21908599I receive many questions from blackjack players. Below are a few of them with tips on how to tip a dealer, what to do if a dealer makes a mistake and what you should do if a casino oversteps the legal rights of a player.

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CRAPS: Backwall Hits, Luck and The Don’t

CrapsLet’s take some time for Q and A’s from our fans.

 

FROM HOWARD: I was wondering if you could answer a question for me, please. I am a dice control craps shooter. I was at the Parx casino last week and got into a 75-minute shoot. Yeah!

I know casinos like for both dice to hit the wall but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I know they tried to intimidate me by telling me both dice have to hit the back wall.

If I don’t what can they do?

I am looking forward to your answer.

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POKER: Introducing NHL to Your Home Game

Option 1Now is the time to tell you that if you introduce NLH to your own home poker game, watch out! The money won and lost can escalate pretty quickly. Before long, the size of the pots will be more than you bargained for. As a brake against this tendancy I reccommend that you introduce NLH in a “cash-down” format, which allows people to take a portion of their chips off the table at a certain peredetermined chip total.

For example, you could require everyone to keep at least $50 in chips in play (making that the maximum they could lose in one pot), but allow them to take off the money above that amount. If someone wins $110 pot, he can remove $60 in chips and put it in his pocket while keeping $50 in play in front of himself. In this way, the stakes won’t go up and up and up after a few hours ofNLH plays, as they usually do. (more…)

Tips & Tricks of the Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is the most elusive prize in sports.

Baseball has its own Triple Crown. It happens when a player leads the league in three statistical categories and since baseball began in 1838, there have been 17 batters and 38 pitchers that have accomplished this amazing feat.

In terms of other horsepower, to win the Triple Crown of motorsport is to capture Formula 1’s most important races: the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix. Only 17 drivers have won a single event while competing in all three, and just 1 – Graham Hill – has pulled off the near impossible.

This year will see horse racing celebrate the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the 140th Preakness Stakes, and 147th Belmont Stakes: and just 11 horses have captured all three. Unlike any other sport where an athlete can try for a Triple Crown over and over, a horse only has one chance to be three-years-old on the first Saturday in May. (more…)

10 Ways to Maximize Your Play

Maximize Slot PlayWhen we sit down to play a slot machine, our task is simple: Make a bet, spin the reels and the machine takes care of the rest. Except in rare instances, there are no strategies to learn or skills to master. The flip side is that while we can’t affect the outcome in any predictable way, nor tell from the outside which games are the highest-paying, there are things we do know about slots and the casinos that operate them to get the most out of a day on the machines. Here are 10 things every slot player should know.

 

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POKER: Top 10 Starting Hands for Beginners

In this column we typically discuss more advanced Hold ’em strategy. But sometimes, it’s good to take a few steps back. And for beginners, I recommend playing only these top 10 hands and folding on all others.

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BLACKJACK: What Would You Do?

How would you play the following four blackjack hands? The dealer’s upcard is a 6.

8♣-10♦
9♥-9♦
A♦-7♠
2♦-5♠-A♦

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Craps: Mommy’s Manners

My mother always believed in proper manners. She wanted me to be respectful of others’ feelings and to keep my mouth shut if I didn’t have something decent to say. Of course, she didn’t think I should just roll over if someone were nasty to me but you get the picture, I shouldn’t be the “bore in the room” without strong provocation. (more…)

Slots: Put Me In Coach

P29_Boyd Slot Tourname_optI recently was a guest on Southern Gaming Radio to talk about both video poker and slot tournaments. The host, Southern Gaming and Destination’s managing editor, Joseph Grove, made casino special events sound so tempting that many listeners were champing at the bit to join in. While I wouldn’t advise taking WD-40 to spritz the buttons for faster play, there are a few legal things you can do to gain an advantage and really be “ready to play” come tournament day.

 

 

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