Discount Gambling

Bust Me Blackjack @ Valley View Casino, CA

Posted in blackjack sidebets by stephenhow on October 28, 2012

The new bust me blackjack sidebet is bad, but at least it’s countable. It’s a blackjack side bet you make after seeing your hand, on whether you’ll bust on the next hit. You get different odds, depending on your total. They’ll let you bet table limits on the side bet, regardless of the size of your main bet. So its pretty obvious that the house edge has to be horrendous to avoid it being countable. And it is. (It’s both horrendous, and countable.)

I’m pretty sure anyone can tell just by looking at the paytable, but here’s the numbers anyways.

Total Payout For Bust House Edge
16 1:2 7.692%
15 1:2 19.23%
14 1:1 7.692%
13 3:2 3.846%
12 2:1 7.692%

Yep, it’s that bad. A true sucker bet. You might be able to fool some of the players some of the time, but you won’t be able to fool them for long. Everyone will catch on to how bad this bet is sooner or later.

Of course it has to be bad, since the first thing everyone thinks about is counting for 10’s and 9’s, and waiting until the end of the shoe to whoop out the $500 and $1000 Bust Me bets on hard-13. (The rack cards make it clear you can bet the table limits at any time, regardless of the size of your main bet.) I thought there might be frequent +EV opportunities, so I plotted the distribution of EV’s for the hard-13 bet throughout the shoe:

The Bust Me 13 sidebet gets very good rather frequently. Of course, you must have hard-13 to bet, so this +EV opportunity only occurs on about 2.6% of your hands, with an average edge of +5.4%/bet. That’s not great, but you can make a huge $500 or $1000 table limit bet, until they stop you. So you’ll get about 1.2 betting opportunities per shoe, and even if you bet $1000, you’ll only average about a $65 profit per shoe.

(Thanks to reader fivespot for pointing out my error in the first version of the post; I had one of those one-line bugs, and was shuffling after every hand. Aiyah!)

Unbalanced Dragon 7 Count

Posted in +EV, baccarat, dragon-7 by stephenhow on October 24, 2012

If you’re ever at an EZ-Baccarat table wondering how to properly count the Dragon-7, here’s an easy-to-use unbalanced count that you won’t forget. Unbalanced counts are very handy, because their running counts (RC) approximate true counts, without any division. They’re a nice little trick that everyone should use. I modified the count from my Dragon-7 tracking sheet post into the unbalanced count below.

You simply start the count at -32 for a new shoe, then update the running count for each card dealt, including the exposed burn card. When the running count is > 0, bet the Dragon-7 side bet. This count scheme simulates at a profit rate of +52% of a fixed bet per 8-deck shoe, when 16 cards are placed behind the cut card. You’ll get about 6.8 betting opportunities per shoe.

Unbalanced Dragon-7 Count (Start at -32, bet when RC >= 0)
Card Rank Count Value
Ten/Face 0
Ace +1
Deuce 0
Trey 0
Four -1
Five -1
Six -1
Seven -1
Eight +2
Nine +2

The variance of the bet is very high, and unless you’re heads-up with the dealer, the hand rate is very slow. If you’re wondering if you can grind out a profit from the bet, look at the outcome distribution below for a 500 unit bankroll with a +1000 unit goal, else playing for 500 shoes. While the risk of ruin is only 3.5%, you still have a 24% chance of losing after 500 shoes. Your average win is +250 units. So, if you have a $50k bankroll, can find a heads-up EZ-Baccarat table with a $100 max Dragon-7 bet, are committed to playing for hundreds of hours, and don’t draw any suspicion from casino personnel, then you can win from $50 to $100 per hour, depending on how fast you play. It might be fun for the first hour or two, but only if you hit a dragon. Try playing my Dragon-7 shoe simulator before you head out to the casino.

Lunar Poker Removed From Pechanga :(

Posted in lunar poker by stephenhow on October 19, 2012

I knew it was too good to last. But I thought the best game ever might last a little while longer, at least long enough for us to get barred from the casino. But when I showed up tonight at the usual spot in the Kelsey pit near the craps table, it was gone. I immediately knew something was wrong when I saw the empty table. Normally, there might not be any players at the table, but tonight there was no dealer. And when I saw they removed the LCD sign, I knew the Lunar Poker game was gone forever.

There were warnings that this might happen. The dealers always said they never dealt the game; either it was closed by the time they started their shift, or they sat dead at the table. The floor supervisors always said it was on it’s way out. I guess it wasn’t holding well. But I’d been playing it regularly for weeks now, and people would join the table, and everyone would have a good time. And when they brought in the new LCD signage, I thought it might last. But it was right next to a $5 blackjack game, which was always full, and which probably held a lot more than the Lunar Poker game. Apparently, it ran the course of it’s contracted period, and the casino took it out immediately after.

This really was the best game ever. Nothing else compares to how good this game can be. This was the absolute Holy Grail of gambling. Every other +EV game I’ve ever written about in this blog pales compared to Lunar Poker. And it was in our hands for one brief, shining moment. The last sessions were the best. We played into the wee hours of the morning, joking, betting big, and playing perfectly. It was so much fun, I knew that it couldn’t get any better, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t last.

After playing Lunar Poker, all other games are essentially dumb and pointless. I actually can’t imagine playing anything else. I thought a lot about the loss of Lunar Poker. I haven’t felt this empty in a long time.