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Is this the case with card games at casinos? I'm under the impression card games are completely random and cannot have designated odds (except for basic rules like dealer holds over 17 in blackjack).

In this sense wouldn't card games be a wiser bet than slot machines?

Not really, as the odds in games like Blackjack are relatively well known to the point where with a given strategy you can calculate the house edge pretty quickly. For most houses and most strategies, the house has an edge of about 0.3-0.4% which is just enough to make you go broke.

If you can count cards, and they don't use a continuous shuffler you can get this to as good as 0.1% in your favour.


For those intrested games with a low house edge there is a game that beats (counted) black jack's pretty good edge by almost a order of magnitude. If you play craps at a table that allows 100x odds bets. You only bet the minimum on the pass line then the max (100x) on the odds when the point is set. This stratagy lowers the house edge to 0.014%. The only problem is it takes a large bankroll. If the table is a $25 dollar minimum you have to risk $2500 on every round.

The casinos are smart enough that all of the bets with the lowest house edge require high stakes to keep it interesting to the house to participate.

Baccarat is always a high stakes game not because it's "fancy" or "exotic", but because it is nearly the closest a casino will let you get to betting on a coin flip, for every player in the game.

Casinos also do things like add 6-7 decks to a shoe where each additional deck gives the house an additional edge. If they have a continuous shuffle machine the odds don't swing (in favor of the house/player), due to a constant probability of cards in circulation. Moral of the story is if you go to a casino with money expect to leave with out it.

> gives the house an additional edge

Technically, additional decks reduce the expected edge of a card-counter who has only seen some number of cards. Which functions the same way...

Yes, unless you think it is possible that the casino in question removes cards from their decks.

For instance, playing black jack by the basic strategy is (from wizardofodds.com):

> the probability of an overall win in blackjack is 42.22%, a tie is 8.48%, and a loss is 49.10%. I'm going to assume you wish to ignore ties for purposes of the streak. In that case, the probability of a win, given a resolved bet, is 46.36%.

So yes, your best bet in the casino is probably blackjack, but it is still a losing proposition without counting cards. Face cards tend to favor the players (table), not the dealer. This is because a dealer hitting with a face card more frequently causes a bust than a player hitting a face card (because players don't have to hit when they might bust, dealers do). So a deck that is heavy with face cards is better for players.

Poker, by contrast, the house has no real interest in whether people win or lose - they just get a % cut of each hand played so they win a little every hand.

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