In this series of articles, I have compiled a list of Gambling Q&A; I am asked whenever I give talks about casino gambling. My list of 8 questions is in no particular order of importance, but theseFrank Scoblete is the one of the most popular gaming authors in America. He has released sixteen books, three audiotapes, three videotapes, and his own imprint, the Scoblete Get-the-Edge Guides. Frank's website is www.goldentouchcraps.com
are some of the most-asked questions.
A Once you learn to do it, it’s the simplest thing in the world. At first thought, counting cards seems extremely difficult, but then you do it and you discover that once you get the hang of it, it isn’t really hard.
Q How much time does it take to learn to count card at blackjack?
A Here are the steps you must take. First, get a good blackjack book and learn basic strategy. It will probably take you a week or two of memorizing to get it down pat. This is the toughest part of the process. You will have to memorize what to do with every hand you get against every dealer upcard. Break it up over a couple of weeks and you’ll master it. Then go to a casino and play for small stakes and when you are perfect in your decision-making, you can learn a count system. It will take you all of five minutes to learn the basics of counting. However, it will take you weeks to do it proficiently enough to go into a casino and do it. Figure two months for the whole process.
Q Is one basic strategy good for every type of blackjack game?
A Actually, there are different basic strategies for different games. The single-deck strategy
is a little different from the multiple-deck strategy; the strategy for games where a dealer hits soft 17 (ace-6) is slightly different from a game where the dealer stands on soft 17, and on and on it goes. But you don’t have to go crazy memorizing six or seven different basic strategies. The differences in the strategies are not great enough to warrant panic. Memorize one and play it perfectly. After
you learn to count and after
you become proficient, then begin to incorporate the changes in basic strategy for the various types of games.
Q Does it really matter which slot machines I play?
A Actually, it matters very much which machines you play. The fact that a machine can’t be beaten doesn’t mean there aren’t better or worse machines to play and better or worse ways to play them.
Q Which machines should I play?
A You have to judge your temperament. If you want to go for the big score such as Megabucks
and you don’t mind bucking odds of around 50 million to one, then be my guest. You will lose almost every time you go to a casino when you exclusively play those progressives because they are holding from 10-15% of the money put in them.
Q Where are they?
A Where would you put the best-paying machines in a casino if you owned the casino?
Of course, you would put them in areas that would encourage
other slot players to continue playing or to play at a faster pace. You would not put them in areas where people would get annoyed with hearing slot players yelling and screaming -- like around the table game area. Those machines are usually tight because astute slot managers realize that table-game players aren’t interested in hearing coins being pumped into slots and these same managers know that if the table-game player is going to dump a few coins in a machine, he or she isn’t expecting to win. So why give a table-game player a loose machine? Why give him anything? Keep those few coins for yourself. Anyway, no one knows where every loose or tight machine is in every casino but as a general rule of thumb, the areas where slot players will be encouraged to play will be loose, and the areas where solitary players might put in a few coins before going here or there to do this or that will be tight. Editor's note: please see our section on Finding Loose Slots for more information on this subject.
Q What does hit frequency mean on a slot machine?
A How many times the player receives some kind of payout from the machine. Most slot machines have hit frequencies around the 15 percent mark. That means about one in six spins will result in the player getting money back. Note that I said “player getting money back” as opposed to “winning money.”
It is theoretically possible to have a 100 percent hit frequency with a machine that takes all your money. Just program it to constantly return one or two coins on a three-coin bet or one to four coins on a five-coin bet. You would have a 100 percent hit frequency and lose every time. The change machine is a 100 percent hit frequency machine with no house edge.
Q Do slot machines have cycles?
A No. When you hear casino personnel talk about cycles, what you are actually dealing with is the theoretical number of spins for all the possible combinations to come up based on the program involved. In the actual playing of the machines, everything is randomly selected based on the RNG -- the random number generator
. There are streaks but these streaks are not predictable.