Discount Gambling


The author of this blog loves gambling. Or at least he likes obsessing over games, writing programs for them, and daydreaming about ways to beat the house. In reality he always bets the minimum amount, and lets the house take their $.02 edge per $5 hand (see Spanish21). Occasionally, there’s something worth sharing with players, so he posts it here.

11 Responses

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  1. Dean Jackson said, on December 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I used to know how to program basic card games in college but it has been many years so I was hoping you could help me out, I also think it could be worth your while and fun to try. The last 2 times I was in vegas I had tremendous success playing texas holdem bonus table game. This wasnt really a system it was sharing information with the person beside me (actually my brother). In vegas no one ever prevented us from showing each other our cards and we played for over 40 hours, so we were not cheating. My brother and I quickly learned a few rules to follow. For example if I was dealt K2 and he got KJ i would fold my K2 and we would just play with the KJ. By removing one of the K from the deck the odds of the K2 winning are greatly reduced. I just dont know by how much?? Another example was if I was dealt 67 and he was dealt Q8 and the board came Q87, the 67 would continue to bet strong since I now know that the deck is missing the Q8 thus reducing the odds that the dealer has a Q8. There are many more examples. My goal is to come up with a complete set of rules based on the knowledge of the 2 extra cards and swing the odds to the player. I just don’t know if i can swing them all the way to a player advantage. Over the 40 hours of play we ended in positive cash flow which I felt was extremely good news. But I dont know if we just got lucky or our system actually worked. This is where you come in and run through a million hands or so… but this time adding in a few more constraints regarding betting and folding. Plus we are looking at the combined odds of BOTH players, not just one. Both players need to pool their money and play as a team. If the data swings the advantage to the player we will all head to vegas, bleed them dry, write a book, hit the talk show circuit and well you get the picture. Cheers Look forward to hearing your reply. Thanks for your time

  2. Howard said, on March 9, 2010 at 7:27 pm


    You really have too much time on your hands. BTW very informative blog about gambling.


  3. Akatora said, on March 27, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Mr How,

    I recently invented a poker carnival game. I need a simulation run to find out optimal strategy and house edge. Are you interested in doing this, and how much would you charge?

    • stephenhow said, on March 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Yes, I analyze games for inventors, calculating the house edge and finding strategies. I’ll email you to discuss the rates.

  4. Kevin said, on December 12, 2012 at 10:23 am

    hello the author of discount gambling, I’m just a physics student at UCLA who loves to play the variety of California style games. As for card craps, because the csm holds a temporary memory, thus the first few cards drawn will not be on the next draw, what if say the card drawn with values 1,2,3 are -1 and values 4,5,6 are +1. then if the count is +3, then make a place bet on 4 since (1,3) (3,1), (2,2) are the only combo to make 4 and they are all low cards while to make 7, (1,6) (2,5)…. all of which require both the high and low cards. Would this strategy or Any variation of it could potentially give a positive expected value?

  5. Darryl N. said, on September 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Hey Steve Darryl from Viejas here. Shoot me an email on ur contact info so we can finally get together. Thnx

  6. Todd said, on July 10, 2018 at 7:51 am

    I was curious if you did any work on a fee basis. Curious to know the hourly win rate and if there was any special count for Free Bet Blackjack not the side bet but the game itself.

    The table minimums and rules are as follows:

    Hit 17
    8 decks
    Blackjack pays 3 to 2
    Split to 4 hands except aces only split once
    All pairs can be split except for tens for free
    Hard 9 10 11 doubled for free
    Double after split on any two cards
    Free double after split on 9 10 and 11
    No free soft double
    Surrender is not allowed
    $10 minimum to $500 maximum
    I am able to back count the shoe if I want to and enter with two hands up to $500 each hand
    I can wong out whenever I feel like it and reenter whenever I feel like it

    Curious to know what count to use or if it matters. I currently use the uston ss.

    What the hourly win rate would be

    Standard deviation per hand

    Standard deviation per hour

    What the overall Edge I would have is.

  7. Tyler said, on January 6, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Love your work! Been a reader for a long time. Can you please reach out to me with your rates for analyzing games and edges? Have a pretty unique one I think you’ll have fun with and I could really use your help.

  8. Pierre said, on July 1, 2019 at 12:58 pm


    I was wondering if you would be able to do some consulting work for me. Specially I would like to know if there is any way I could modify the strategy to play Ultimate Texas Hold’em with a certain rule change.

    If you are willing to discuss please DM.

  9. Sam chok said, on June 15, 2022 at 2:36 am

    I have a very odd run at craps playing the don’t pass. I don’t know why but betting about three numbers, over 10 years, and about 300,000 rolls, I’m up about $300,000. My usual bet is $200 with a $1200 lay on the don’t pass, then I play three numbers on the don’t come before a seven out.

    I don’t understand if I’ve just been very lucky the last 10 years and this is normal variance but I feel like I should not be up as much as I am. The problem is I don’t know how to calculate the variance I should be experiencing in craps. Have I discovered a hole in the system based on the freeplay or show up money the casino is giving me? This has been driving me bananas and I need someone to help me run the math.

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