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# Two-way tips and blackjack progression betting

1 February 2015

QUESTION: I saw something at craps that had me wondering. One of the players had been winning pretty good, and he put out \$10 and said, “\$10 hard 6, both ways.”

The shooter rolled an easy 6, a 1-5, and the bet lost, so I never got to see what the “both ways” was. There’s only one way to roll a hard 6, right? There has to be a 3 on both dice. What’s the second way?

ANSWER The player was making a bet for the dealer. The “both ways” meant the \$10 was to be broken down into a \$5 bet for the player and a \$5 bet for the dealer. That way, the dealer and player are temporarily a team, winning together or losing together.

That said, the high house-edge bets are not my favorite way to tip craps dealers. When you bet on hard 6, you win only with 3-3, but lose on the four other ways to make 6 and on the six ways to make 7. An average of 10 times out of 11, you’re going to lose the bet for the dealer you’re trying to tip. True odds against winning are 10-1, and the 9-1 payoff leaves a house edge of 9.09 percent.

Another common wager used to tip the dealer is the one-roll bet on 11, or “yo,” after the dealer’s call of “yo-leven.” Again, this bet will lose a lot more often than it wins. There are 36 possible two-dice combinations, and only two total 11, so the odds against winning are 17-1. The payoff is 15-1, leaving a house edge of 11.11 percent.

When I bet for the dealers, I like the dealers to actually get some money more often than that. For a long time, my favored method has been to make an extra Pass Line bet for the dealers. They’ll win the bet just under 49.3 percent of the time on a bet with a 1.41 percent house edge. Some players don’t like to go that route because it leaves open the question of whether to back the dealer’s bet with free odds. I don’t do that – I bet my targeted tip amount at Pass and leave it at that.

If you want to eliminate the free odds question or simply want to stick to one-roll wagers, one possibility is the field. The house edge isn’t as high as on yo-leven. It’s 5.26 percent if both 2 and 12 pay 2-1 and 2.78 percent if one of them – usually 12 – pays 3-1. The bet pays even money if the shooter rolls 3, 4, 9, 10 or 11 as well the bigger pays on 2 and 12, so it wins 16 times per 36 rolls. It’s not as strong a bet as the Pass Line, but the dealer will get a tip more often than if the bet is on the hardways or yo.

QUESTION: Tell me what you think about this betting system for blackjack. I play a really conservative progression, starting with a \$5 bet. After the first win, I bet \$5 again. After the second win, I go to \$10, and from there increase \$5 after each win. After any loss, I go back down to \$5.

That way, I’m never in a position to lose money on any sequence. The worst I can do is break even if my first \$5 win is followed by a \$5 loss. Doesn’t that lower the house edge?

There are a couple of points that were left unsaid in your explanation. You say that you’re never in position to lose money on any sequence, but what you mean is you’re never in position to lose on any sequence that starts with a win. The same could be said for flat betting – wagering the same amount on any hand.

Also unsaid is that in your progression, two \$5 wins followed by a \$10 loss also leaves you even for the sequence. Assuming you keep playing at least until a loss, you don’t start making money until the fourth win in a row. If you were flat betting, two \$5 wins would be followed by a \$5 loss for an overall \$5 profit.

Your progression adds volatility to the game – bigger potential wins, but more frequent small losses. It does not change the house edge.
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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.