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Table Games $$ Question - Blackjack - Baccarat - Pai Gow Poker

Discussion in 'Table Games' started by AnabelleT, Mar 31, 2014.

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  1. AnabelleT

    AnabelleT Tourist

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    I don't play Blackjack but I've been told recently by a casino friend that if I intend on making any money playing in the casino I should learn blackjack and I should learn basic strategy with at least a little casual card counting.

    I've also been told by my Baccarat acquaintances that with correct strategy and money management I could make a little money with Baccarat.

    And I was told today that with optimum hand placing that Pai Gow Poker is the way to go, assuming I like the game, because I'll need to play it for a while.


    As far as making money, right now I'm not focusing on that when I go to the casino. Sure I like to win, and I've been doing ok, but it's the excitement and the "high" I get from playing that I'm really enjoying right now.

    But let's say I decide to work on winning more consistently, which of the above games is better for that?

    I'm a good student (A+:wave:) so I'm ready to put the proper time into becoming an expert at one of these games, but one at a time.

    Right now "stopping when I get ahead" has worked for me for the most part. It's hard, because sometimes that strategy keeps me from playing for as long as I would want to. Honesly I haven't been following it much, but when I do, I come out ahead, it's that simple.

    I don't intend on getting rich gambling, but if I can make some $$ it would help me return more often to the casino which = more FUN 4 me!

    What do you say?
     
  2. paperposter

    paperposter VIP Whale

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    answers in bold
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2014
  3. OneManWolfPack

    OneManWolfPack Tourist

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    In pai gow and baccarat no matter what the house edge is the same. In blackjack if you play basic strategy right you can get the odds lower and possibly in our favor.
    It's really all about the comps now days. Read comp city!

    Blackjack you can master in an afternoon, but I personally got sick of people taking non ideal hits that took my card or the dealers bust card.

    Baccarat is a wild ride but the banker comission will grind ou down.

    Pai gow is actually fun and the slow pace of the table and tons of pushes make it a fun social game.

    Personally I play pai gow at my local track when they have promotions. Seated players have a shot at free money envelopes every hour, so a slow game like pai gow preserves our bankroll while you sit and pray.
    My track has no comission at all and often high fortune progressives. It just hit so I don't bet the side bets.

    If you can handle the swings learn bj if you want to preserve your broll play pai gow, if you wanna be James bond pai baccarat.
     
  4. jdvegas

    jdvegas VIP Whale

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    Perfectly played blackjack on a table with great rules is the best game in Vegas. You generally need to play at a high limit table to get the best rules, which can shave the house advantage down to around 0.002.

    There are limits to what you can do in the way of counting - you can only spread your bets so far before you will be backed off... and players are watched more closely at high limit tables. If you are serious in your card counting, you can actually get to even odds without using huge betting spreads. You will also need to understand how basic strategy changes slightly based on the count.

    Now the reality: you need to be perfect, and you need to be intensely focused on the count. There are very few people who can keep this up for any period of time. And frankly, it becomes "work" rather than fun.
     
  5. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    Blackjack.
    I have found that learning basic strategy for a two-deck, H17, DAS game is the easiest to adjust from when playing tables with different rules. It has about a 0.5% house advantage when played properly...without even bothering to count.

    I've also found that a two-deck game has almost no strategy changes (in actual play) due to the count. You still double & split when you're supposed to, and you still never take insurance...well, so rarely that I've almost never done it. Also, a two-deck game has far lower variance than a shoe game. Of course, that also means you'll never get a "long-lasting" positive count like you can see in a shoe game, but you also never get a long-lasting negative count either.

    Become so comfortable with basic strategy that you never have to think about how to play a given hand. This allows you to focus your attention on the cards as they are revealed to you.

    I happen to really like the 2-deck shoe games at the El Cortez, Plaza & LVC downtown. They are low-limit tables with DAS, and because they're shoes, all cards are dealt face up to each player. Makes it easier to maintain a running count...for me, anyway.

    If you hate downtown, then you'll need to figure on at least $25 minimum bets in order to find decent rules on the strip. More, if you want two-deck.

    Oh, and as I'm sure you know, never play a 6:5 table...ever.

    Even with a sort-of undisciplined count, I've had more winning blackjack sessions than losing ones.
    Have a table departure point in mind whenever you sit down, both for losses and for wins.
    I'm a $10 player, and my typical spread based on the count runs to $40...ever-so-rarely as high as $50.
    I get almost no heat with that spread. But my wins are modest as a result.
    I'm ok with that. My typical win-departure trigger point is $100, but if I reach that, I'll keep playing until I hit $200, or until I lose down to +$90.
    In other words, once I'm up $100, I force myself to have at least a $90 win at that table.
    My loss-limit for a table is $200. Yes, it happens from time to time, but less often than one might think.

    I gather that your limits will be higher than mine, but you can adjust the math accordingly.
    The concept is sound.
     
    Seems like forever from now, but the flights are booked, so it counts!
  6. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    If you are willing to put in the time and effort to study becoming a better gambler, skip all these games and focus your efforts and energy in poker and sports betting. Those are the only two games where the player can get a consistent edge against the house.

    You can also get an edge playing blackjack under optimal conditions and with counting, but that is very difficult, tedious, and the casinos will back you off if they catch you doing it.

    Nobody can make money consistently off baccarat (and I would make the same guess about pai gow, although I have never played it much). People who tell you that you can make money are simply lucky and hoping you are the same. I have had entire weekends where I raked in the money playing these games and went home a big winner to the tune of six figures. But that is a result of statistical variance, not something you can count on every time. I have also had trips where I lost a lot, including six figures.

    My recommendation, pick the game you like the most. Blackjack, baccarat, and craps have the lowest house advantage. Learn the optimal way to play each game to keep that house advantage as low as possible. Go to the casino with a large bankroll and only play a small percentage of your bankroll per hand (I would guess that most people on this board wager somewhere between 1 and 2 percent of their bankroll on any given hand; personally, my percentage is much smaller). And then when variance swings in your favor, color up and cash in. Secure that profit. And then if you want to keep playing, play at a smaller level so you can lock in the win even if you go on a cold streak (which happens to everyone). Or if you want to try and win big, place all your winnings (i.e. house money) on one large wager and see if you can double up. Either way, you're not going home a loser. Good luck
     
  7. Texas Gramma

    Texas Gramma Low-Roller

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    The best online blackjack trainer I know about is at http://www.hitorstand.net/game_m.html Be sure to read the instructions on the opening page before you play.
    ---
    I practice Pai Gow poker at http://wizardofvegas.com/games/pai-gow-poker/
    ---
    All other poker type games, i.e. 3 card, mississippi stud, etc. (look under "more games" can be found at
    http://www.3-cardpokeronline.com/mobile.html?utm_source=missstud&utm_medium=mobile_link&utm_campaign=link_promote
    ---
    I have used all of these and when I go to Downtown Las Vegas, I feel confident in playing at any of these games... I also enjoy freebet blackjack, but I have not found a website to practice... but at The D... the dealers were very helpful to newbies and if you already knew basic blackjack, it was not hard to learn the game.
     
  8. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    I'm afraid that you're mistaken about the need and value of strategy changes in 2-deck games. At +3 you should take insurance and +anything you should stand on 16 vs. 10. I have 42 other variations that I try to take advantage of (positive and negative counts), but these two are the most important (by far) because they're worth a lot (insurance) and they come up a lot (16vT).

    Practically speaking, it's pretty unimportant to make strategy changes in negative counts, (like hitting 14v2, 12 Vs. Anything, etc), because you have a minimum bet out. But changes in positive counts matter because you've made a bigger bet. You're still playing at an advantage if you just play basic strategy, but you can certainly boost your expectation by getting these plays into your repertoire. (I've only done the 10 split once when I was playing along and the count was through the roof (the dealer got 26), but I'll do the rest of these.)

    The last point is that these are still close plays at these counts, because they wouldn't have shifted from the BS play to the index play UNLESS they were close. But it's nice to get it right. And on a good day you can piss off your neighbors and get a less crowded table!


    Here's a list of the more valuable ones:
    <tt>>=&nbsp;0&nbsp;&nbsp;16&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;T&nbsp;&nbsp;Stand<br>>=&nbsp;0&nbsp;&nbsp;9&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;&nbsp;2&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;A7&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;2&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;A8&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;5&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;A8&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;6&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;12&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;3&nbsp;&nbsp;Stand<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;11&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;A&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;1&nbsp;&nbsp;8&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;&nbsp;6&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;2&nbsp;&nbsp;10&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;T&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;3&nbsp;&nbsp;Insurance&nbsp;Take<br>>=&nbsp;3&nbsp;&nbsp;12&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;2&nbsp;&nbsp;Stand<br>>=&nbsp;3&nbsp;&nbsp;10&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;A&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;3&nbsp;&nbsp;8&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;&nbsp;5&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;4&nbsp;&nbsp;9&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;&nbsp;7&nbsp;&nbsp;Double<br>>=&nbsp;4&nbsp;&nbsp;15&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;T&nbsp;&nbsp;Stand<br>>=&nbsp;4&nbsp;&nbsp;16&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;9&nbsp;&nbsp;Stand<br>>=&nbsp;4&nbsp;&nbsp;TT&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;5&nbsp;&nbsp;Split<br>>=&nbsp;4&nbsp;&nbsp;TT&nbsp;vs.&nbsp;6&nbsp;&nbsp;Split<br></tt>
     
  9. AnabelleT

    AnabelleT Tourist

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    Thank you all so much for these answers!

    So it looks like Blackjack is the game of choice for possibly making money but it'll take hard work if I understand correctly, right?

    As far as Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat, I should forget it? I was hoping there was a way to make some money playing these since they are my favorites. I don't like to just go on luck and streaks (though it's fun) I was hoping there were strategies or tips to winning more than losing with these two games.

    How about Three Card Poker? Is that any better?
     
  10. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    The edge on 3-Card Poker is huge, especially on the bonus bet. It's mindless fun (you just play Q64 or better, fold everything else), but it's dull, at least for me. But it's a VERY popular game; there's always lots of these tables in basically every casino.

    If you like playing card games, you SHOULD learn to play blackjack. It's the queen (or king, whatever) of table games and in my mind, has the best chance of walking away a winner. Just learn basic strategy and forget about counting for now. Flat bet the thing and possibly raise your bet sometimes when you get ahead. Of course, go to WizardOfOdds to get the correct basic strategy.

    Or see my post in the sticky up above about a simplified basic strategy with just 8 logical rules to follow and you'll have 95% of it right there.

    http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/showpost.php?p=810935&postcount=86
     
  11. Tubbs

    Tubbs High-Roller

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    You are searching for the impossible. Unless you are going to become an expert poker player (and even there you have to factor in rake and tips) you are up against the house edge.

    House edge means that the casino always wins in the long run. What is the long run? With a lot of luck you might be a consistent winner for a long time but, sooner or later, the casino will come out ahead.

    Blackjack is usually quoted as the exception because proficient counting allows you to come out ahead. But do you want to put in the work to become a good counter? That's only the start. You need to know basic strategy, you need to know strategy exceptions for the count, you need to know when to leave the table, you need to manage your bankroll (accepting that you will often lose even when you have an advantage), you need to be able to do all this without drawing any attention to you.

    What is it you are actually trying to do? Being a good student is not enough to beat the casino. Wouldn't everyone be trying to do it?

    With all respect, you need to get a better understanding of gambling in general if you are even considering hoping to make a profit from games like Pai Gow Poker and 3 Card Poker. :peace:
     
  12. AnabelleT

    AnabelleT Tourist

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    Tubbs, thank you. Where can I go to learn more about gambling in general? I'm interested in learning more.
     
  13. Tubbs

    Tubbs High-Roller

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    This is the place to start to get an understanding of many games, rules, house edge and, most importantly, correct player strategy to keep the house edge to the minimum -

    http://wizardofodds.com

    You can then branch out into other websites, forums and books if there are particular games that you want to understand better. But the Wizard's site and a lot of practice play will take you a long way.
     
  14. sindustry

    sindustry VIP Whale

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    I noticed this a lot at my local casino's 2 deck pitch game. In fact, I think most the players at this casino now just auto-stand on 16 vs 10, regardless of count. I tend to only notice this at the pitch game.
     
  15. DeMoN2318

    DeMoN2318 The DERS

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    Do you thank them when they make a "non ideal hit" and it works out in your favor?


    If you are basing ALL your decisions on pure EV then you will always lose...eventually...sometimes you have to factor in utility or that "gut feeling"
     
  16. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    Thank you, Wade!
    Reviewing your list, I actually do over half of those - but they just don't seem to come up often enough to worry about it very much.

    It's not that good counts don't happen - it's that the hand combinations don't seem to when the count is positive (the exceptions being the stand 16 vs 10 on an even+...and the insurance bet on +3.)
    I have the "no insurance ever" thing so locked in my head, I always wave it off as a matter of auto-pilot routine.
    I'll be more aware of this in the future.
    The stand on 16 thing I will do, depending on the cards I've seen prior to my decision...a lot of tens? I hit. 2s through 7s? I stand.
     
    Seems like forever from now, but the flights are booked, so it counts!
  17. RiddickBull

    RiddickBull VIP Whale

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    This is absolutely true.

    BJ you can win if you count and play right. Very difficult. If you are too good, they will refuse service.

    Baccarat is like guessing. Use some statistical analysis and educated guesses, you may be successful like the stock market or forex market. However, you do not have background info on companies, economy, etc. Perhaps even more difficult.

    Pai Gow is a joke in being successful.
     
  18. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    If you follow these indexes, you'll end up taking insurance on every max bet or near max bet you make. If people make a face or say something snide, I might tell them "I'm insuring my money, not my cards!" (Especially when I'm holding a 10-4 or something.)

    And when I have 15 or 16 against 10 and I don't hit (and sometimes 14 if the count is through the roof), I might say "I hate busting out right away when I have a big bet out."
     
  19. joshrocker

    joshrocker VIP Whale

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    The only possible games to win at over the long range are BJ, sports, and poker. Poker is probably the easiest of these options but it is in no way easy. Look at the "house edge" of any game you're interested in and you'll see how much of a long term loser you'll really be.

    Pai gow and Baccarat are both decent casino games to play with semi low house edges but there is no way to beat them long term.

    Poker isn't near as profitable as it once. Does your local casino have a poker room? It can be extremely intimidating at first but after a few sessions you'll fit right in. BJ is a tough game to stay in long term because if you start to win too much you'll start getting attention. Not to mention a lot has to do with the conditions of the game being spread. Sports is a tough one also. The house takes 10% of every bet made and it can be very hard to make up that edge over the long run. It is possible but unless you're betting illegally with a bookie or constantly in Las Vegas, it can be hard to make the bets when you need to make them.

    Edit to add video poker to the list. Full pay tables are getting harder and harder to find but they do still exist. You can only play certain machines and must learn perfect strategy. That was an obvious omission.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
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