If all the
player knew was the rules of the game, and if he'd
hit, stand, split, or double down and take insurance
at whim, how much of an edge do you think the casino
In his groundbreaking
Beat the Dealer, Edward O. Thorp estimated that
the house might have as much as a 15 percent edge
over some players. Later research showed that to
be much too high. A player has to be truly bad,
making all sorts of wrongheaded plays, to be at
a double-digit disadvantage.
bad strategies that some players follow are called
"dealer mimic" and "never bust."
My pal Ron was guilty of taking elements of both
when he decided to stand on 12 when the dealer shows
a 2, and stand on soft 17 against a 6.
In never bust,
the player stands on all hands of 12 or more. "I
hate to bust," said one reader's letter. "So
I never do." He doesn't win often enough either.
In dealer mimic,
the player simply follows dealer's rules; he hits
16 and under and stands on 17 and over. "If
it's good enough for the dealer, it's good enough
for me," goes the logic. Only it's not good
enough. Both never bust and mimic the dealer give
the house advantages of about 5 percent. On the
average, for every $100 you bet, you'll lose $5.
the edge come from? From just one source: The player
finishes out his hand before the dealer, and therefore
has the opportunity to bust first. Whenever the
player busts, he loses, regardless of whether the
busts about 28 percent of his hands. The player
who mimics the dealer will also bust 28 percent
of the time. The house edge is the overlap-the 8
percent of hands on which the dealer busts, but
the player busts first.
If such hands
were declared ties, then the player and the dealer
would win the same percentage of the time. Instead,
the house ?wins those hands and builds an 8 percent
casino advantage at the core of the game.
single-table events are played as satellite tournaments
for larger events, although they needn't necessarily
lead to a larger event.
A single-table event begins with between eight and
ten players, depending on whether the game is a stud
or flop variety. Usually there is only one prize.
If the event is a satellite, the prize is a seat in
a bigger event.
For example, suppose a $1,060 seven-card stud tournament
($1,000 of which is the buy-in, and $60 the entry
fee). Eight players enter each such tournament. As
soon as eight players pay up, a TA starts accepting
entries for the next satellite. The event costs $145
to enter; with eight players starting, the casino
collects $1,160. The satellite winner receives a fully
paid $1,060 seat into the day's main event. No one
else receives anything (except the casino, which has
made a $100 profit ... actually $160 when you count
the money it will collect from the main event entry