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Code red on these two blood-donor bets

16 June 2003

Dear Mark,

On a craps table, there are spaces with a "C" or "E" in a circle. I know that the "C" is for craps and the "E" is for eleven. Does betting on these circles differ from the regular "any craps" bet? Jim E.

Somewhat, Jim, tag along.

With any craps (2, 3 or 12), you are betting that the next roll will be a 2, 3, or 12. Payout for a win is 7:1; but house edge floats up there at 11.1%. Players making this wager believe that their loss on the pass line bet (because of a craps: 2, 3, or 12) is nullified by the win on this bet. Yet, these canny players may not realize that offsetting a loss with a win doesn't change the steep house edge on an Any Craps bet.

As for a C & E (Craps-Eleven, which means 2, 3, 11 or 12), the letters C and E represent two different bets. The C component places a wager on the "any craps" betting area. The E segment places a wager on the Any 11 bet. The C payout for a 2, 3 or 12 is 3:1. The E payout for an 11 is 7:1.

While observing a crap game last week, I overheard the dealer recommend NOT making a C & E wager to a player. He mouthed, "Fuhgeddaboudit, it's a slow bleed."

The "slow bleed" in gamblingo, Jim, is losing your bankroll in a slow and consistent manner. No matter how you bet, you cannot win enough back to come out even. Aye, Jimbo, you might hit an occasional C & E or any craps, but you will lose over the long haul.

The dealer was correct in informing the player that the C & E is a bloodshed bet, but his warning was too modest. Betting either any craps or a C & E, both with a house edge in double digits, is more like hemorrhaging.

Dear Mark,

When I play Deuces Wild on my computer, if I draw two pairs (for example 9s and 4s) the tutorial on the CD tells me to discard one of the pairs and draw three. This does not seem to be a good idea. Could I have your opinion on this please? Jack C.

Add Yours Truly to the vast coalition of gaming experts (and I've read 'em all) who will firmly tell you that holding two pairs is a misguided move which deviates from perfect basic strategy. WHY?

The essential thing to remember when playing Deuces Wild video poker is that the four twos (deuces) in the deck are not just wild; they're savage! and can be substituted for any other card, for any rank, in any suit. So, you never, ever discard a deuce. Because you have a fair chance at these four savages to help make up winning combinations, the lowest payout in Deuces Wild is for three-of-a-kind. Unlike a Jacks or Better machine, two pairs in Deuces Wild gets you squat.

One of the more notable player errors in Deuces Wild is the sticky unwillingness to throw away one of the two pairs. This is an important strategy, in that you want to make room for those additional cards which could include a deuce or two.

So Jack, never keep two pairs in Deuces Wild video. Select one or the other (rank doesn't matter). Keeping that single pair gives you a better expected outcome, and three-of-a-kind, the minimum scheduled payout, ain't all that bad.

Gambling quote of the week: "Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles." Peter L Bernstein, Against the Gods

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Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.