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Limiting Beliefs

10 common “mythtakes” that players make at table games

By Frank Scoblete

On any given hand, and on any given night, luck does play a role—that’s true. But in the long run, how skillfully you play will determine just what the casino wins from you—or what you win from them!

I call them “mythtakes”: false beliefs based on erroneous information that cause players to make mistakes in the casino. Often, these mistakes cost them a substantial amount of money. Here, I present 10 of the most common mythtakes that I’ve observed among table game players.

Mythtake #1: In blackjack, the dealer probably has a face-down 10-value card.

Not so. He is much more likely to have a non-10 in the hole, because in a deck of cards, there are only 16 cards valued as 10, and 36 cards not valued as 10. Now, keep in mind we don’t play basic strategy based on what we guess the hole card of the dealer is. We play it based on the face-up card. The computer simulations take into consideration every single possible hole card the dealer could have, and in what proportions.

Mythtake #2: The casino always wins. No. There are plenty of people who are ahead at the end of their playing session. If there were never any winners, the casinos would close. Who would ever play in a casino if everyone lost, all the time? But in the long run, the casino does win, owing to three factors: the significant house edge on almost all games; the big casino bankroll that can weather hot streaks by its opponents; and the poor, uninformed play of most patrons.

Mythtake #3: All casino games are just dumb luck. Not so. Games such as blackjack, poker, video poker, and craps (when dice control techniques are used) can actually have player edges. On any given hand, and on any given night, luck does play a role—that’s true. But in the long run, how skillfully you play will determine just what the casino wins from you—or what you win from them!

Mythtake #4: You have to be a genius to count cards at blackjack. This is another popular misconception. With traditional card counting systems such as Hi-Lo, you just have to know how to add, subtract and divide (and sometimes multiply). With the new Speed Count from my book Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge, you just have to know how to add and subtract. You don’t have to be a genius to do those two things.

Mythtake #5: New games are introduced to give the players more choices.

No, new games are introduced to give the casinos increased revenues. You’ll notice that all new table games come in with higher house edges and/or faster speeds than the classic games. Even a relatively good new game such as Spanish 21 requires the player to memorize a whole new basic strategy in order to reduce the house edge to under 8/10 of one percent.

Mythtake #6: Counting cards and dice control at craps are illegal. They aren’t. Card counters are not violating any laws, unless there is a law that says you can’t think. At craps, the casino gives the dice to the player to roll them. No player is expected to deliberately try to lose on his rolls, so attempting to win is no crime. So why have the courts (thus far) upheld the right of casinos to refuse someone’s action? It’s because casinos are protected by an ancient law/custom called the “Innkeeper Law” that states that a man’s “Inn” is his castle and he can serve or not serve whomever he pleases. In the United States, if you are counting cards or controlling dice in a casino, you can be told you can’t play.

Mythtake #7: The pit boss always ignores me. I doubt that. You might be ignored if you are obnoxious, loud, drunk, or otherwise behave like a ploppy. If that pit boss or floor person, is at the computers, it probably means they’re checking on a comp or a rating. Chances are they don’t see you waving. When they do, they’ll usually say, “I’ll be right with you.”

Mythtake #8: Dealers make a lot of money, that’s why they all wear so much gold on their arms. Some dealers do make a lot of money. Some dealers don’t. It all depends which casinos they work in. Many dealers’ salaries are barely more than minimum wage. They need tips to make ends meet. Dealers are in the “service” part of the casino industry, the same as waiters, waitresses, bartenders, valet parkers and bellhops. As to the gold that festoons many a wrist, finger and forearm, those are there for decorative purposes, since players watch dealers’ hands at certain games.

Mythtake #9: If a craps table has been hot, it will continue to be hot. If it’s cold, it will continue to be cold. This is one of the biggest myths in gambling. Remember this: what happened on the last decision has no influence on what will happen on the next decision. This is absolutely true as long as the game is random.

Mythtake #10: Professional blackjack players make millions. I wish. In blackjack, it’s rare for anyone to make millions at that game—unless he starts with millions. Despite the fact that some teams are making hundreds of thousands or, perhaps, millions overall, these teams are few and far between and they are heavily bankrolled. The best blackjack pro I ever met was the late PK, who played five nights a week, 52 weeks a year. He earned between $20,000 and $30,000 per year playing blackjack. He had to supplement his blackjack income with a job in a bookstore. He was the best, mind you—the very best at what he did.

For most mortals, the sky is not the limit when it comes to blackjack winnings. However, for the recreational player who has no illusions about being a “professional,” it’s always better to play with an edge over the casino than to play without one. Obviously, you want to play the games that excite you the most, and play them in the smartest way possible. But millions? I’m afraid it isn’t in the cards, even for the vast majority of card counters—unless they’ve got king-sized bankrolls and are willing to play as much as the average citizen works in a week.

Frank Scoblete’s newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines, which features advantage-play slots; and Casino Craps: Shoot to Win, which comes with a DVD showing unedited controlled throws. Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players and Beat Blackjack Now are all available from Amazon.com, at your favorite bookstore, or by mail order by calling 1-800-944-0406. For a free brochure, call that number.

 Limiting Beliefs of Players.

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