Are hot – or cold – tables a myth? It depends who you ask.
By John Grochowski
In blackjack, the odds change on every hand as cards are removed from the deck. In other games, the odds are unchanging, the same on one spin of the roulette wheel as the next regardless of recent results. Nonetheless, streaks happen and some players seek out hot tables.
In this month’s Table Talk, we hear from readers who want to play where others are winning, and from others who say they just ignore all that.
Deep down, I don’t put a lot of stock in hot tables or cold tables, but it’s more fun to play with happy players. I look for blackjack tables where players have big piles of chips.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. One time I took the last seat with six players who all had that winning look. One man told me, “Get ready to win. Joy – the dealer – has been really good to us.” Another said, “I just hope you don’t change our luck.”
It worked to a charm. My first hand I won a double down. Joy seemed to bust half the time. Even when a new dealer came on – Frank was his name – we all did pretty well. I bought in for $100, played for an hour and cashed out more than $500.
But there was this other time. Everybody was in a good mood, but as soon as I joined the game the dealer started pulling 21s. It didn’t matter what she had up. She’d have a 6 up, turn up a 10 and everybody has their hopes up. She pulls a 5. Boom! goes the dynamite.
Other players started joking about my draining all the luck. At least most were joking. One lady left the table and told me, “I’m sure you’re a nice guy, but I hope never to play with you again.”
I’m a craps player, and I absolutely scout tables. If everybody is whooping and hollering at one table and all quiet and looking grim at the other, I want to be with the winners.
To me, when the dice are hot, they’re hot. All my best runs, the times I’ve made five, six, seven passes, have been at hot tables where everybody else was winning, too.
To me, hot and cold tables are nonsense. I play the game I want to play when there’s a place open at the price I want to play. If I’m there to play $15 blackjack, I’m not going to play at a $25 table just because it’s not.
I had a great time once at a table where the dealer tried to warn me off. It was a $5 table, and it was empty while all the other tables were busy. Other players had been losing, and the dealer told me, “You don’t want to play with me. I’ve been red hot.”
He wasn’t red hot while I was there. I started at $15 a hand and was playing a progression. I had a lot of little four- and five-win streaks. One was longer, and my progression took my bet up over $100. Before I knew it, I had about a $1,200 profit.
OK, sometimes if I go to a cold table, I’m going to lose. But I’m going to lose at hot tables sometimes too. If you’re afraid of losing, you shouldn’t be playing.
I don’t know about hot tables, but I like hot numbers at roulette. That’s what I play when I’m not playing slots. I play probably 80 percent slots and 20 percent roulette. I always get in a little roulette.
If there’s a choice of more than one table, then I look at the boards and see if any of them have a number that’s on the board three or more times. If there is, then I go to that table and use that number in my combinations until it’s off the board.
It’s worked pretty good for me. One time, the first number after I started was the hot number. I had it for a single number, on a three-number street and I bet on its column and its color. That was really cool, and then it came in again.
That sticks out, but I’ve had some other nice wins, too.
I’m a contrarian, I guess. I not only don’t believe in hot or cold tables, I like to bet against the grain.
If a craps table is cold, I try to go liven it up. I tell them, “Give me the dice, it’s time to win”
If the craps table looks hot, then I’ll go start betting the don’t. It has to cool off some-time, right? It might as well be while I’m there. I’ve gotten a few glares, but no big deal.
I can’t say my way is any better than anyone else’s. I probably win and lose about as much as you should. But I have a good time doing it, and there’s something satisfying about winning when you’re going against the grain.
My work friend plays a lot of blackjack, and he and I were talking once about hot tables.
He told me, “Randy, if you see a table where people are winning, don’t just automatically jump in. It could just be that a lot of high cards are coming out and players are getting blackjacks and other good hands. The low cards still have to come out sometime, and when they do, the tide will turn.”
I don’t count cards and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s kind of the way I play. I shy away from the hot tables. If I wind up at a cold table, then at least there’s more open space from players leaving.