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# Why Commissions

6 November 2022

QUESTION: I don't get the whole idea of commissions on casino games. If I want to bet on banker in baccarat, I have to pay a 5 percent commission. If I want to buy numbers instead of place them in craps, I have to pay a 5 percent commission.

Why should I have to pay a commission? Why can't I just win or lose and let the dice or cards fall where they may, like on other bets?

ANSWER: Wagers are set up so the house has an edge that will turn a profit given average results and extended play. In the cases you mention, the house edge comes from the commission. Without the commission, casinos wouldn't be able to offer the bets.

In baccarat, bets on the player option can pay even money because player wins less often than banker. Given average results, the house will keep 1.24 percent of money wagered on player.

In craps, place bets can pay 7-6 on 6 or 8, 7-5 on 5 or 9 and 9-5 on 4 or 10 because loser 7s come up more often than winning numbers. Given average results, the house will keep 1.52 percent of money wagered on 6 or 8, 4 percent of money wagered on 5 or 9 and 6.67 percent of money wagered on 4 or 10.

But on a few bets, the house does not have a mathematical advantage. The banker bet wins more than it loses. If it paid even money, the house would lose with average results. So, the house stakes out an edge by charging a commission on winning banker bets

Craps buy bets are similar. What you buy is a true-odds payoff on your bets. When you place 4, the shooter averages six loser 7s and three winner 4s per nine decisions. That makes the true odds against winning 2-1. When you buy the 4, you're paid 2-1 instead of the smaller 9-5 payoff you'd get on a place bet.

Eliminating the commission would mean paying true odds with no charge. There would be no house edge and no casino profit. Casinos wouldn't lose money on the bets, but wouldn't make money, either. The casino would have costs in paying for the crew, equipment, upkeep and more.

Buy bets would be eliminated as non-profitable.

Casinos are businesses and wagers are their product. Instead of a markup over wholesale on a gallon of milk, you get wagers designed with a house edge. On the baccarat banker bet and craps buy bets, that edge comes in the form of a commission.

QUESTION: I want to tell my back-to-back wins story! Three Card Poker, I was betting \$10 on Pair Plus. After a while with nothing special, I got three 9s. Three of a kind is 30-1, so I won \$300. Yay!

On the next hand, I was shocked to pick up my cards and see three Kings. Double yay! Another \$300.

That's not as big as some of the double royal flush stories you get, but it was a great payday for me.

ANSWER: Congratulations! Just FYI, there are 22,100 possible Three Card Poker hands in which card order doesn't matter. Fifty-two hands, or 1 in 425 bring three of a kind. To calculate the chances of three of a kind twice in a row, square 1 in 425. Your back-to-backers were a 1 in 180,626 shot.
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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.