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# Triple Play and five-spot blackjack

10 May 2015

QUESTION: I developed a new system last week. I put \$200 into a Triple Play Double Double Bonus machine and played max bet at \$1. I was done in about three minutes!

I'm trying to figure out what to name the system.

ANSWER: “Ouch!” seems like a good name, or “Off!” or “Kapow!” or any number of Batman TV on-screen expletives.

Max bet on a \$1 Triple Play Poker game is \$15, so with \$200 you were starting with enough for 13 bets, with \$5 left over. If you draw a quick four of a kind, you can cash out for more than your original investment. Otherwise, you need a string of small wins, preferably with some winners on the initial deal that give you paybacks on all three hands.

Any slow start will break you in a hurry, as happened to you. But somehow I think you knew that and decided to accept high risk for the long shot at high reward.

QUESTION: Blackjack tables at a casino where I play have five spots instead of the usual seven. Can you tell me what the casino gets out of that, and how it affects players?

ANSWER: The biggest thing having fewer spots at a table accomplishes is to speed up the game. It takes more time to deal a hand if you’re waiting for seven people to play their hands and have their bets settled than if you’re waiting for five people.

With any number of players, speed is variable, dependent on both the speed of the dealer and the speed of the players. Back in the mid-1990s, I attended a seminar given by casino consultant Jim Kilby, and his book, “Casino Operations Management,” estimates 52 hands per hour with seven players, 60 with six, 70 with five, 84 with four, 105 with three, 139 with two and 209 with one.

Let’s say you’re operating a casino with enough demand to keep 35 blackjack seats full. If you divide that among five traditional seven-spot tables, each customer is playing 52 hands an hour, and the 35 players combine for 1,820 hands. With seven five-spot tables, each player averages 70 hands an hour, and the 35-player total is 2,450 hands.

By switching from five seven-spots to seven five-spots, the casino gets an extra 630 hands an hour. That makes it well worth paying an extra couple of dealers.

There’s a danger point for an operator if the customer base is too low. Most players like to play with others, and clustering three or four players at five five-spot tables with none at the other two is no faster than having three or four players at each of five seven-spots. But if the casino is busy, it gets more hands per hour with fewer spots at each table.

Most players are better off with a slower game. A speedier game favors whoever has the edge, and in most cases that’s the house. More hands per hour means more exposure to the house edge. Advantage players, on the other hand, benefit from a faster game, and would get extra speed with fewer players per table.

Speed of the game is not something most average players consider. In the late 1990s, Harrah’s Las Vegas switched from seven-spots to five-spots, and received favorable comments from players who said the smaller tables were more comfortable. Their table games director at the time said, “Something we did to speed up the game was perceived as a customer service touch.”
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Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.