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Taking On The Tables

Best strategies for the top four table games

By Frank Scoblete


Let’s take a short look at all of them:


There are four table-games that many players tend to enjoy playing in the casinos: blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat/ mini-baccarat. Each one has decisions dealing with what strategies to play, how to play them along with money management methods that reduce the risk of going home empty.

The most popular table-game in the casino is one that requires accurate decisions on each and every player hand against each and every dealer up-card. Obviously, the best method of play is to memorize the basic strategy for the blackjack game you wish to play or, to make it even simpler, buy a strategy card that will give you the proper strategy. Bring the card to the table and make use of it for every play. The basic strategy card is the computer derived play for every hand you’ll receive.

Blackjack can be a close game but the speed of the dealer can be troubling. Even at low-house edge games – and blackjack with basic strategy comes in around one-half percent – the more hands you play, the more the casino edge can grind you down. Therefore, look for full tables, shallow cut cards (meaning how many cards the dealer cuts out of play – with the more being the better) and good rules such as doubling on any first two cards, splitting pairs, resplitting pairs, dealer standing on soft 17, and surrender.

Your money management is simple: Give yourself a certain amount with which to play and if you lose that amount take a break or if you feel you are getting tired take a break or if you’ve won and want to leave a winner then also take a break. I recommend 40 units of money which means for a $10 player a $400 bankroll would be sufficient to play for a decent amount of time.


The second most popular table game. There is a multitude of bets at craps, each coming in with different house edges. If you bet the high-house-edge bets your bankroll will take major hits over time – major! If you make the better bets (for example, Pass Line and Come bets) you will have a close contest with the house as Pass Line and Come bets have about a 1.41 percent house edge. Some other bets at craps come in over 11 to 16 percent!

Obviously, making the best bets is the best strategy. Also making just one bet per point-cycle is better than making multiple bets as the more bets a player makes the more money the house edge will ultimately devour. Each bet is a separate game against the house.


Keeping your betting levels low and establishing a loss limit (if I lose “X” amount of money I will stop this session’s play) and a win goal (if I win “Y” amount of money I’ll take a break) or if fatigue starts to envelope you then take some time off. The game will always be there.

This used to be the game of aristocrats who desired to become peasants. The game is strictly random but there are still some strategy decisions a player can make. For example, there is one bet on the American double-zero wheel that is the worst bet. It is called the monster or the five-number bet of 0, 00, 1, 2, 3. The house edge zooms up from 5.26 percent all the way to 7.89 percent. Ugh!

But there is a good roulette bet that actually cuts the house edge in half. If the casino allows surrender on outside even-money bets of red/black, odd/even and high/low and it will give back half the bet if the 0 or 00 shows, then you’ve lowed the house edge in half.

Obviously, avoid the five-number bet and only make the even-money bets at casinos that allow surrender. Use the loss limit technique and the win goal technique at the game. I personally prefer to make those even-money bets as the pattern of the game offers you more winning moments while the inside numbers’ game gives back larger wins of 35 to one but long losing streaks are the norm, With the exception of surrender the casino has that 5.26 percent house edge on all but the five-number monster. Your choice as to which bets to make is your choice.


There are two types of baccarat games in the casino; high roller room baccarat of large minimum bets and a long, large table; and the mini-baccarat games played on a blackjack style table with usually lower minimum bets. The high-roller room baccarat has the players dealing the cards and the game is quite slow; while the mini-baccarat game has a casino dealer (usually a fast dealer) whipping out the cards.

Baccarat has three bets, the Bank, the Player and the Tie. Both Bank and Player are good bets, both coming in with house edges under 1.3 percent (Bank is the better of the two). Avoid the Tie bet where the house edge soars up to over 14 percent!

If you find you cannot afford the high limits of the traditional baccarat and must play mini-baccarat you must sit out about half the hands. Even with a small house edge too many hands spoil the wallet and purse. Again, use the loss limit, win goal and fatigue factor when playing.

[Read Frank Scoblete’s books I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage- Play Craps and Confessions of a Wayward Catholic! All available from, on Kindle and electronic media, at Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores. Visit Frank’s web site at]


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