If the poker gods aren’t treating you too kindly, then there are plenty of other games at a casino to take advantage of. Granted, they all have a house edge, but are a fun way to blow off some steam after a bad beat or just wind down from an intense day at the tables. In our previous article, we took a look at blackjack, craps, and Let it Ride. Now, we’ll dip into the world of roulette, Three Card Poker, and Pai Gow.
The game of roulette is as old as gambling itself. A little white ball lands in a numbered space, paying out to anyone who bet on it. There are plenty of variations of the game, but the basic rules are the same. You’ll place a bet on a number, color, or subset of numbers and then watch physics determine your fate. You’ll be paid off accordingly, with color bets, odds, and evens paying 1:1. Betting on any of the columns will get you 2:1, while wagering on a number typically pays 35:1.
When you look at the wheel, there will be either one or two green spaces marked with a 0 and 00. In general, the more green spaces there are, the worse the odds are for you. In fact, the house edge actually doubles when a 00 space is added. While the probability of hitting your 14 has gone down from 1 in 37 to 1 in 38, your payout remains steady at 35:1. If possible, find a wheel with a single 0 and avoid 00 wheels like the buffet.
You’ll notice a tote board perched high above your table showing the last 10 to 20 numbers that have hit. While the last five rolls may have been red numbers, it’s important to note that the odds of the ball landing in another red spot are exactly the same. The tote board creates the illusion of being able to forecast the next spin; however, each trial is independent, so don’t let it fool you.
When you sit down at a Three-Card Poker table, you’ll notice three places to bet: Ante, Play, and Pair Plus. While the multitude of options might seem a bit daunting, it’s really simple. Place the table minimum in the Ante circle and, if you think your starting hand will be a pair or better, place another bet in the Pair Plus circle. You’ll be paid on the Pair Plus according to what your hand includes.
Now, look at your cards. If you think you can beat the dealer, then place an amount equal to your Ante bet into the circle that says Play. If not, fold your hand. The dealer must have at least queen-high in order to qualify. If she doesn’t, then she’ll fold her hand and you’ll get paid 1:1 on your Ante bet if you chose to play. If the dealer qualifies, then you’ll need to beat her hand in order to get paid on your Play and Ante bets. Straights and flushes count in this game and can frequently occur given that only three cards are used.
Three-Card Poker is one of our least favorite games, but that’s more due to our poor track record than the game not being an enjoyable way to kill a few hours.
If you want to sit back, drink some Budweiser, and break even in a casino game, then Pai Gow is for you. At a $5 table, $50 can literally last an evening. You’ll get seven cards to start. All you have to do is make one five-card hand and one two-card hand. The only caveat is that the value of the five-card must be greater than the value of the two-card hand. How you arrange your seven cards is entirely up to you.
The dealer will also receive seven cards and divide them the same way. If her five-card hand and two-card hand beat yours, then she takes your money. If your five-card hand and two-card hand beat hers, then you win. If each of you wins one hand, then you tie and nothing happens. Breaking even occurs quite often, causing you to push a large portion of the time.
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