Casino Myths

by Frank Scoblete

There are countless casino myths held by plenty of casino players, many handed down by tradition and authority that are indeed false, illogical and just plain dumb.
I state 10 casino myths with the truth.

Casino Myths #1: In blackjack, the dealer probably has a 10-value card in the hole.
Don’t bet your life on that. True, the dealer is more likely to have a 10-valued card than any other single value, but he is much more likely to have a non-10 in the hole.
Why is that? Because in a single deck of cards, there are only 16 cards valued as 10 (the King, Queen, Jack and 10) and 36 cards not valued as 10.
Of course, you have a better chance of a 10-valued card coming out than you do a 2, or 3 or 4 or Ace because there are four 10-values to every one of any other value.
Now, here’s the really important thing to remember.
We don’t play basic strategy based on what we guess the hole card of the dealer to be. We play it based on the face-up card. The computer simulations that developed basic strategy did so taking into consideration every single possible hole card the dealer could have and in what proportions.

Casino Myths #2: Counting cards is illegal.
A lot of people believe that this is true but it isn’t. Despite the fact that casinos have been known to “ask” card counters to leave their environs, or at the very least desist from playing blackjack, card counters are not violating any laws. How could they be?
It is not a criminal offense to think. Your eyes have to look at the cards. Your brain has to make decisions on what to do with your hand. So why have the courts (thus far) upheld the right of a casino to refuse someone’s action because he or she is counting cards (or was thought to be counting cards)?
Casinos are under an ancient law/custom called the “Innkeeper Law” that states a man’s home and, by extension, his “Inn” is his castle and he can serve or not serve whomever he pleases. In the United States, certain “protected” groups, such as minorities and the handicapped, cannot be asked to leave a business establishment because of these particulars, but if they were counting cards in a casino, they could be booted out as well. Thus far, no court has really established that we have a right to think.

Casino Myths #3: If you tip the dealers at blackjack, they’ll give you better cards.
If you were a dealer and you could control what cards came out of a deck or shoe would you be hustling tips from the likes of you?
Or would you tell your relatives and friends to come to the casino tonight to clean up! Of course, if you had larceny in your heart, every relative you have (that you liked) and every friend, would belly up to your table and bet the table max until they wiped out the casino, or until the casino fired you.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), dealers can’t control what happens to the cards. In the bad old days of bent-nosed casino owners and baseball-bat justice, some of the unscrupulous casinos hired card mechanics who could indeed control what came out the deck. Those days are done. Very few dealers today have an interest in cards per se. They are just doing their jobs. Luck controls the fall of the cards. Tips just control the possibility of a smile or a “thank you” from an appreciative dealer.

Casino Myths #4: If a craps table has been hot, it will continue to be hot. If it’s cold, it will continue to be cold.
Many casino players, not just craps players, look for trends and then bet with or against the trend. It is an old law of gambling that the “dice have no memory.” That is, what happened on the last decision has no influence on what will happen on the next decision. That is absolutely true as long as the game is random and no one is controlling the outcome through physical means.
Craps is an independent-trial game and what happens now will have no effect on what happens next. However, there is some truth to the myth that while the dice might not have a memory, certain shooters do. These shooters, called rhythmic rollers, might be able to influence the game by the way they physically roll the dice thereby increasing the likelihood of some numbers appearing and decreasing the likelihood of other numbers appearing. So here’s an instance where a myth is false except if it’s true.

Casino Myths #5: All casino games are just dumb luck.
Not true. Some games are a delightful combination of dumb luck (short run results) and smart skill (long run results).
Games such as blackjack, poker, video poker, Caribbean Stud, Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Pai Gow poker, and even Three Card Poker require the best choices to be made on each and every hand you’re dealt in order to cut the casino edge to its minimum and, in some cases, to turn the edge in favor of the players.
On a given hand, on a given night, luck is the key factor, that is true, but in the long run, how skillfully you play your cards will determine just what the casino wins from you -- or what you win from it!

Casino Myths #6: New games are introduced to give the players more choices.
That’s certainly how the casinos advertise it. In reality, new games are introduced to give the casinos more of an opportunity for increased revenues. New games are an attempt to lure veteran players who might be bored with the old games, or introduce new players to the tables. You’ll notice that all new table games come in with higher house edges or faster speeds than more traditional games. Even a relatively good new game such as Spanish 21 needs the player to memorize a whole new basic strategy in order to reduce the house edge to around 0.8 percent.
This still isn’t as good as the approximately 0.5 percent edge a normal six-deck blackjack game has for a basic strategy player.
And if you don’t play the correct strategy at Spanish 21, which most people do not, you are facing edges of well over two and three percent.
Casino Myths #7: Casinos are not interested in low rollers. To get comps, you have to bet big money.
If you play the machines, even for quarters, you aren’t as low a roller as you think you are. Put three quarters in a machine every five seconds and you are putting through $540 per hour. Play four hours and you just gambled $2,160 -- wow!
The casinos will be more than happy to recognize such action with free or discounted rooms, meals and other special promotions.
If you play table games, you might not want to be a five-dollar bettor looking for comps in a casino where they only rate $25 action. However, there are plenty of casinos that will gladly comp five-dollar players if they play long enough. The bottom line is this: Most casinos want just about all players. Find the places that give your action the most in perks as possible...and then patronize them.

Casino Myths #8: The casino comping formula is an exact science and is written in stone.
There is a little truth to this myth and a big untruth to it. Slot clubs for small and medium players are an almost an exact science. You play the requisite number of coins to get the requisite number of points and you get the requisite number of buffets or show tickets or discounts to rooms. However, for bigger slot players (dollars and up) and for table-game players, the comping policies are guidelines.
If the guideline says that a $150 player who plays four hours per day gets RFB (the highest level of comps) and Mr. Jones, a very good customer of Luckland Casino, happens to only play three hours one evening, do you think the host is going to say: “Sorry, Mr. Jones, I know you’ve dumped tens of thousands here at Luckland, but tonight you can have the coffee shop, not the gourmet room, because you didn’t play the four hours.”
More than just a rating will often go into what an individual on the high end might get. Such factors as the number of good players the individual brings with him or her would be considered; how often the person comes to the casino, and past history.
Remember that comps are inducements to play and stay at a certain place and would any casino in its right mind say to Mr. Jones: “Buzz off, we don’t want your $150 per decision, go somewhere else.” I doubt it.

Casino Myths #9: Professional blackjack and video poker players make millions every year.
The number one video poker expert in the world is on record as stating he makes about $50,000 per year playing. That’s about 500 hands per hour at a one dollar VP game at five dollars a pop at a machine that returns 101 percent of all the money played, playing eight hours a day for five days a week for 50 weeks a year.
There’s no medical, no dental, and no pay if you don’t play and, horrors, no pay many days and weeks even if you do play! And he’s the best, mind you, the very best.
The best blackjack pro I ever met was the late PK who played five nights a week 52 weeks a year. He earned between $20,000 and $30,000 per year playing blackjack.
He had to supplement his blackjack income with a job in a bookstore. He was the best, mind you, the very best at what he did. For most mortals the sky is not the limit on VP or blackjack winnings, the ceiling of a typical lower middle-class house is.
However, for the recreational player who has no illusions about being a “professional,” it is always better to play with an edge over the casino than to play without an edge. Obviously, you want to play the very best games that excite you and play them in the very best way. But millions? I’m afraid it ain’t in the cards for the majority of players.

Casino Myths #10:
The casino always wins.
No it doesn’t. On any given night, there are plenty of people who are ahead of the game at any given time. There are also plenty of people who are ahead when their day or evening of gambling is over.
In fact, I once read a statistic based on a survey of people at the airport in Las Vegas that approximately 10 percent of the folks leaving were ahead for their trip. If there were never any winners, the casinos would go out of business.
Who would ever play if hand after hand, roll after roll, spin after spin, time after time you lost? No one. In the long run, the casino will beat almost every player owing to three variables: the casino edge on almost all games, the casino bankroll that can weather hot streaks by the players, and the poor play of many players. But the casino does not always win.

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