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29 December 1999

Dear AP:
When is the best time to bluff in poker? I say that you should always bluff early in a game so you can sniff out the other players' reactions. What's your opinion?

MM

Dear MM:
I'm not a poker player but according to Frank Scoblete's Guerrilla Gambling: How to Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games!, the best time to bluff is usually never! Frank believes that it's too risky, especially in the end game when you've invested a lot of money in the pot. Early on, you might tentatively go in on a pot without having "the goods" (that is, a potentially decent hand) to see how others react (you want them to fold immediately or you'll fold) but I wouldn't even recommend this. Learn everything there is to learn about the mathematics of poker and how to proportion your betting strategy. Bad players can't be bluffed and good players will quickly learn to analyze your play and scoop the money right from under your nose.

Dear AP:
I understand that the game of baccarat is supposed to be one of the better casino games. But how can that be when one bet, the "bank," takes a five percent commission out of your win? Doesn't that give the casino a five percent edge on this bet?

C.M.

Dear C.M.:
You're right on one thingâ€”baccarat is one of the better casino games because the casino doesn't have all that much of an edge over the player on two of the three bets. These bets are the "player" and "bank" bets. Frank Scoblete in his books Guerrilla Gambling: How to Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Baccarat Battle Book: How to Attack the Game of Baccarat has explained how that five percent commission actually doesn't give the casino a five percent edge.

"The tie bet is irrelevant to the mathematics since a tie has no influence on the bank or player wagers. The bank bet wins 50.68 percent of all wagers. The bank bet loses 49.32 percent of all wagers. However, for every dollar that the bank wins, the casino charges a five percent commission. Thus, you win 95 cents on the dollar. So when you lose, you lose \$49.32 for every \$100 you bet on bank, but when you win, you only get \$48.15 (That's \$50.68 X.95 =\$48.15.) The bank bet has a net loss of \$1.17 for every \$100 wagered, which translates into a 1.17 percent edge for the casino." On the player bet, Scoblete explains, the casino doesn't have to charge a commission because the casino enjoys a 1.36 percent edge since the player bet only wins 49.32 percent of all wagers.

The Baccarat Battle Book: How to Attack the Game of Baccarat by Frank Scoblete
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Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.
Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.