Blackjack Dealer Bust Rates

Blackjack Dealer Bust Hand


Most people know blackjack myths but I prefer to look at blackjack facts. You know, the stuff that actually happens and not stuff that people think is true but isn’t.

One of the biggest myths is to always assume that the dealer always has a 10 in the hole. That’s only true around 30% of the time (16 tens per 52 card deck). Here’s a fact about dealer hands. According to math provided by Blackjack Age the dealer busts more than 28% of the time.

The dealer has an average bust rate of 28.36% on any given hand and, as you can see, based on this chart, 4, 5, and 6 are the dealer’s biggest bust cards. However, how do you know whether or not you should hit or stand and hope for the dealer to bust in a given situation? Your best bet is to take your own bust-out rates into consideration and then stand only when your chances of busting are greater than the dealer’s chances.

Here’s a chart with the dealer bust rate based on the card they have showing.

Dealer Bust Rate BlackJackAge

Looking at this chart you can see the math behind why a blackjack dealer is more likely to bust when they have a “bust card”. The dealer is almost twice as likely to bust when they have a 2 through 6.

This also show that a common phrase heard at blackjack tables, “a 2 is the dealer’s ace“, is not even close to being true as the two bust 3 times as often as an ace. Chalk that up as another myth.

I practice blackjack strategy and counting with the ODDcase app for iPhone. It’s the best blackjack app around and the full version is only $1.99.

Photo Elmo’s World Trip


Roulette Is Evil. Here’s The Proof.

Do you believe that roulette is evil? I don’t like roulette so I you can put me in the category of people that find these game evil although I don’t find roulette as evil as I do boring.

When I was looking for a roulette wheel for yesterday’s 666 article, I came across an article that opens the door onto the true evils of roulette.

Roulette history rumors that the game was invented by a mad Chinese monk way back in the fourteenth century. The truth is no one really knows who the true founder of the game really is but the legend makes room for a great topic of conversation amongst casino dealers and those interested in the game.

The rumor goes along these lines, this Chinese monk invented the game of roulette but then while trying to find a system to crack the game went mad and killed himself he apparently added several references to the number 666 all over roulette.

  • For instance add all the numbers on the roulette wheel 1 thru 36 and they total exactly 666.
  • Add any three numbers on the layout horizontally and you will always get a reference to the number 6. Eg. 1+2+3=6 , 16+17+18=51 (added together 5+1=6)
  • Add any three numbers diagonally and get a number that relates to 6. Eg. 28+26+24=78 then 7+8=15 then 1+5=6 or 3+5+7=15 then 1+5=6
  • Add the numbers making up each dozen and you get 78 for the first dozen 7+8=15 then 1+5=6 Second dozen gives you 222 then 2+2+2=6 Third dozen 366 then 3+6+6=15 then 1+5=6
  • The funny thing is the game of roulette is marked with the number 6 all throughout, it’s up to you whether or not you believe the Chinese mad monk inventing roulette story or not.

If you’re a roulette player these evils are definitely something to consider. I don’t mess with the supernatural and this just gives me more reason to avoid roulette.

My timing is off. I know. Halloween would have been a better period to bring evil into casino gaming. Regardless, this is fun and I’ll stick to craps. 🙂

Here are some links if you want to add the number of the beast to your holiday gifts.

Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” remastered CD
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” single download
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” Vinyl Picture Disc
Roulette Wheel and Felt
Shot Glass Roulette Game

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr



Roulette Is The Beast

It’s always fun when I can find an excuse to work Iron Maiden into my day. Today’s “Number Of The Beast” tidbit is that the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666. As we all know, 666 is the number of the beast. If you’re not aware, please enjoy the video below.

Here are some links if you want to add the number of the beast to your holiday gifts.

Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” remastered CD
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” single download
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” Vinyl Picture Disc
Roulette Wheel and Felt
Shot Glass Roulette Game


Best Downtown Las Vegas Video Poker

Royal Flush Video Poker at Red Rock Resort

Royal Flush!

I haven’t done a video poker check in a while and since I’m spending a night around Downtown Vegas next week I figured that I’d see what games are available in the area.

When I go on a solo trip to a casino I tend to play more video poker than table games. When I’m with others I tend to be more social and play blackjack, craps, etc.

If you’re a video poker player in Las Vegas then you want to play downtown. There are games with positive returns in almost every casino. If you’re like me and prefer to play perfectly instead of playing a game with plus EV, there is 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.56% return) or 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17% return) readily available.

Here’s the rundown of the best video poker in downtown Vegas beginning with the casinos that have the most options for good video poker games.

  1. The D – Long Bar video poker is not on this list. That game has about 94% returns.
  2. El Cortez
  3. Las Vegas Club
  4. California
  5. Four Queens
  6. Main Street Station
  7. Plaza
  8. Golden Gate
  9. Golden Nugget
  10. Fremont
  11. Binions
  12. Gold Spike – At least they have “Sexy Blackjack

All information from vpFREE2, the best place to research video poker.

I practice video poker with the WinPoker app on my iPhone. It’s $9.99 and worth every penny. It’s the best way to practice video poker.


Casino Speak

I read about casinos and gaming a lot and come across quite a few business terms that I’m unclear on. Their meanings aren’t always logical. Sometimes they’re too logical. While going through some UNLVGaming Research Reports I came across a lot of definitions that I figured I’d share.

  • Win Amount: Cash-in minus payoffs; (for sports: the amount the sports books kept for the calendar year)
  • % Change: Percentage change in win from the previous year
  • % Win Drop: Win as a percentage of drop, AKA hold percentage, the percentage of money wagered that
  • the casino kept
  • Drop: Total amount bet by bettors during the calendar year
  • Total Gaming Win: Total amount won by casinos on all games and devices during the calendar year
  • % Total: Casino win as a percentage of total casino win
  • Win/Unit: Average win per unit for the calendar year
  • Positions: total number of slot machines, plus total table games multiplied by six
  • WP: Win per position
  • WPD: Win per position per day
  • Units: total number of slot machines or table games
  • Win Amount: the total amount won from gamblers
  • WPU: Win per unit: total win divided by total number of units
  • WUD: Win per unit per day
  • Win : Percentage of total money gambled (handle) that casinos kept; also known as hold percentage

There are more casino business terms that aren’t listed here and there are more day-to-day casino terms that I’ll pass on in the future. Craps seems to have a lot of lingo that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.

Craps having its own language is part of what makes it fun, but it’s also nice to lessen the feat and bring new people to the game.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr



Voting Is Like Playing A Slot Machine

Nevada has early voting and I decided to partake since it was never available to me before. Early voting is awesome and not stressful since it’s spread out over a two week period and not shoved into one [Read more…]

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Statistical Breakdown Of New Craps Bets

We have a guest post today from Steve G who covers gaming topics at! We’ve been interacting on twitter for a while and he’s lending some numbers wisdom to a new craps bet that I found at G2E. Without further adieu…

Marc from AC2LV tweeted an interesting picture from the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas this past week. It showed a detail from a craps table on the floor with new bet areas marked off.

The table was on display by Galaxy Gaming and the new bets were labeled as follows:

  • All Small, 34 to 1, 2-3-4-5-6
  • All Tall, 34 to 1, 8-9-10-11-12
  • All or nothing at All, 175 to 1, 2-3-4-5-6-8-9-10-11-12

Marc asked if someone could determine true odds on those bets. That’s not as simple as it might seem because these are not one-roll bets like any craps, or a bet on one result compared to another like a hard 10. The bet is that all the numbers will be rolled before a seven, and that is not as simple to calculate directly.

A game simulation can estimate the odds, though. After 50 million trials, there is a reasonable estimate of the chances.

Bet Payout Estimate Odds Estimate House Edge
All Small 34 to 1 36.9 to 1 7.7%
All Tall 34 to 1 36.9 to 1 7.7%
All or Nothing at All 175 to 1 188.7 to 1 7.2%


So these bets have a higher house edge than bets on a single number at the roulette wheel (5.26% for a double-zero wheel) with a similar or higher payout. Certainly other prop bets on the craps table like a hard 6 or hard 8 offer a smaller payout (9-1 payout) with a higher house edge (9.1%).

However, 7.7% is still a lot higher than the house edge on the pass line (1.41%). Gamblers are much better off sticking to front line bets and pressing those bets by taking odds with zero house edge.

That is a grind, though, and this would seem a nice way to take advantage of those hot hands where the shooter rolls number after number before sevening out.

True, but there are other ways to benefit from a hot hand that will cost a lot less over a session an average session of craps. Let’s look at a couple of them.

Place Bets
Many players make place bets at the table. When a point is established, bettors place numbers, looking to get action on numbers other than the point. The 6 and 8 are popular choices, and for good reason. The house edge on those bets is a small 1.52% (provided that the player makes bets in multiples of 6 to get the true payout of 7 to 6). Placing the 5 or 9 cedes a house edge of 4%, while the 4 and 10 give a house edge of 6.67%. Note, however, all those bets have a smaller edge than the Galaxy “All” bets.

So a player could place all the numbers once a point is established, and have most of what the “All” bets have working, for a lower house edge. It would put more money in action, however. Using a multiple of 6 for the 6 and 8, it would be $64 each point for a $10 craps bettor, compared to $30 on the full menu of the Galaxy “All” bets.

Come Bets
Instead of playing the pass line, a $10 craps player could also just place a come bet after a point is established, getting more action in the game. If the bettor keeps placing come bets until a few come points are established, they can have multiple numbers working, and all for the same low house edge as the pass line. As a bonus, odds can be taken on the come bet, just like the pass line.

This is the advice Darwin Ortiz gives for getting more action in his classic book, “Darwin Ortiz On Casino Gambling”. That’s the same book where he gives the odds on the prop bets in craps, but asks the reader not to tell anyone they read his book if they make them. Ortiz thinks of all the prop bets as sucker bets, so despite the kind words to Galaxy on their innovation, you can imagine what Darwin Ortiz thinks of these bets.

Let’s compare how a bettor might do if they follow four different modes of play after every point is established:

  1. Making all three Galaxy All bets, for $10 each.
  2. Making all place bets, for $10 each ($12 on the 6 and 8), and taking the number down if it hits
  3. Making $10 come bets, until there are at the most 4 come points established
  4. Making those $10 come bets, and pressing them for $10 odds when a come point is established

After another 10M simulations, here are some results:

Approach Average Result per 100 trials
Galaxy All bets -282.2
Place bets -248.1
Come bets -60.6
Come bets with odds -59.9


Quick thoughts. Craps is a negative sum game. All the approaches lose money over time. The Galaxy bets fare the worst. The place bets are close behind. Even though the 6 and 8 offer low house edge, the poor odds in the 4 and 10 are what makes the difference.

The come bets offer a much smaller expected loss. In this case, taking the odds made a small change (and for the positive by a small amount in this run of simulated hands), but since there is zero house edge on the odds bets, the long-term expected loss for come bets with and without the odds should be the same.

The obvious counter to the come-bet approach by a Galaxy All bettor is that while those average losses may be larger for the Galaxy bets, when a hot hand does happen the payoff should be huge compared to what a few come bets could manage. After all, what’s even money on a few numbers compared to 34 to 1? We’re not playing 10 million hands, or even 100. Maybe 20-30 in a couple of hours at the table. If the Galaxy bet hits, that is a great night.

Here are some more figures for those 10 million hands, looking only at those events where one of the Galaxy bets would payoff, and what happens with our approaches:

All Small Hits All Tall Hits All or Nothing at All Hits
Place bets 78.5 78.6 92
Come bets 14.9 21.1 34.2
Come bets with odds 63.3 69.5 113.3


Quick observations. By definition, All or Nothing At All means all the placed bets hit, so the average payout should be exactly $92, and it is. Also, here should be no difference between place bet outcomes for All Small or All Tall hitting. The bets are symmetric. And that looks to be the case.

In contrast, there should be a difference for the come bets between All Small and All Tall since the 11 is a winner whereas the 3 is a loser. That is seen in the average results.

The Galaxy makes a fair point. Even with odds, the come bet play for a $10 bettor is less than a tenth the payout for the Galaxy bet for a very hot hand. For that one even when it hits, the payout is much larger.

Overall, however, that bettor will spend a lot more at the table in exchange for that one big payout. And in the meantime there are plenty of good, but not “all or nothing” hands where a hot shooter will make a winning session for a come bettor.

Darwin Ortiz has it right. Sharp players should stick to the come bets.

But hats off to Galaxy Gaming. They have come up with a new bet on an established game with a high payout, easy to understand rules, and a house edge attractive to casino management. And also worthy of a long blog post.


I Found My Place At The Craps Table. I’m #8!

Craps is probably my favorite game in the casino. I may play video poker more often, but craps is the one I love (See Craps: A Love Story) and will always come back to.

It’s been a while, but I finally [Read more…]

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Blackjack Tips

Marc has provided a lot of good information about blackjack lately and I hope he doesn’t mind if I add my two cents. I started playing the game in 2004 (an Atlantic City trip report I may write someday) based mainly on the writings of ESPN’s Bill Simmons, aka ‘The Sports Guy’ (ED: Download Free Podcast), back when he was funny (ED: He’s still funny, you’re just desensitized to it.). Prior to the trip, I taught myself basic strategy by purchasing some software for my PC and playing it until most of the strategy became second nature.

Neither this game nor Bill Simmons, however, could teach me the ‘unwritten rules of blackjack’. Okay, in retrospect, I probably could’ve Googled it, had I known they existed. Heck, I could Google it right now, but then a) I wouldn’t have an article to write or b) my article would clearly be biased by what I’ve read. So, when you’re done reading, feel free to add your own in the comments, but if you think I missed something obvious, now you know why.

General Play

  • When joining a game mid-shoe, it never hurts to ask the players already in the game if you can join. (ED: I never join mid-shoe and hate when people do)
  • If you are dealt a double-down opportunity, it is perfectly acceptable to double your bet by moving your chips into position before it is your turn. There is a slim chance that the dealer has a 10 up card and turns over an Ace, but any good dealer will return your second bet to you while taking your first. Naturally you wouldn’t do this if the dealer was showing an Ace.
  • I don’t think there’s any situation where you’d split 5s, but a dealer must ask you if you want to double or split them. Since casinos are noisy (that is why there are hand signals, of course!), you can hold your index finger up, like a 1, meaning ‘1 card’, which is all you get when you double.
  • When the first round of cards are dealt, it is nice to wish any players that their Aces become blackjacks/naturals by lightly banging/tapping the table in their direction and saying “Good luck on your Ace”.
  • It’s obvious that you can touch your chips after you get paid for a win and normally the dealer takes your chips as soon as you lose. But what about a push? As I learned the hard way, DO NOT touch your chips until the dealer gets to your position and bangs/taps the felt in front of you to signal ‘push’ to the ‘eye in the sky’.


  • There are two main ways to tip your dealer: 1) slide a chip into the ‘dealer zone’, that nebulous area best described as “around the insurance line”; a comment like “that’s for you” should convey the message and 2) make a bet for the dealer by placing your chip(s) near your betting stack, akin to the Moon orbiting the Earth.
  • In the event of a push, I usually but not always remember to ask the dealer what he/she prefers. Most often, they’ll ‘let it ride’. I don’t think I’ve had anyone take the tip on a push.
  • True story: my first or second time playing, a player to my left, during the betting portion, reached over and put singles/whites ‘in orbit’ around all our bets. I had no idea what she was doing. It was only when we all won and I went to take the money that I learned she was tipping the dealer on all our hands. I have never seen this since.
  • When coloring up at the end of a session, if I don’t think I’ve tipped enough, I try to remember to keep a red (or two) to the side so it’s not included in the coloring. That way I’m not digging in my wallet for some small bills after being handed a stack of greens and blacks.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

ED: Check out my favorite blackjack/counting app for the iPhone on Get Vegas Apps.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr



Blackjack Myths

Blackjack - 7+7+7=21


Last week I wrote an article for Vegas Chatter asking what kind of person you’d rather play blackjack with. The question was really a lesser of all evils. Ultimately we’d all like to play blackjack with people who “know how to play.” Unfortunately we rarely get to play with these kind of people.

People that know how to play exist, but there are a lot of myths that people spout out at the table that are just not true. The biggest myth I’ve come across is that when a person makes a bad play by one player will adversely effect the other players (i.e. stay on 14 against a 10). After listening to a Betting Dork Podcast with Jeff Ma last year I learned that the math says this isn’t true and that it’s psychological.

There is also a psychological myth that Continuous Shuffle Machines (CSM) are also bad for blackjack odds. Mathematically there’s no truth to that. I never win at a CMS and I generally stay away this kind of blackjack game.

While doing a little research last week I found a list of blackjack myths at Blackjack Age and wanted to share so you know if people really know what they’re talking about when they bitch about you “not knowing the rules”.

  • Always Figure the Dealer for 10 in the Hole – …about 30% of the cards in the deck are worth 10, so there is really only a 3:7 chance in any given round that the blackjack dealer actually has a 10 in the hole.
  • Bad Players at the Table Hurt Your Chances (as discussed above) – In reality, mathematically speaking, bad players have no real effect on the outcome of the game.
  • The Order of the Cards is Sacred – While it’s true that another player surrendering or someone new joining the game will change the order of the cards, there is just as much a chance that their decisions will result in a shift that will help you to win.
  • Avoid Choosing the Last Position at the Table – The decisions of the other players at the table shared just as big a part in leading up to the end of the round and the order of the cards as you did.
  • Always Take Insurance When Dealt a Blackjack – However, taking insurance in every instance is often one of the worst moves you could make. When you take insurance you give up 13% of the profit that blackjack pays, cutting your winnings drastically.
  • Card Counting is Illegal – Stop worrying about getting caught and learn this great strategy because in reality, card counting in blackjack is perfectly legal and can greatly increase your chances.

Conceptually, the author is right about everything above. However, I know card counters that have been banned from casinos and this isn’t something to take lightly if you care about where you play blackjack.

My reasoning to share these myths is just to remind you to relax and have fun when you play blackjack. There is so much discussion of right and wrong when playing blackjack that everyone will tell a novice something different.

Just play the same way every time and don’t be a jerk and you’ll be fine with most people at the table.

** Jeff Ma was part of the MIT blackjack team from the book Bringing Down The House and movie 21. Check his wiki to learn more. He’s smart. 

Copyright © 2017 Marc Meltzer & EDGe Vegas