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Frank Scoblete - The Always, Nevers, and Sometimes of Other Games

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  • Frank ScobletePeople love Let It Ride. It just might be the second most popular card game in the casinos, after blackjack. Unfortunately, it?s a tough game to beat because it has a somewhat imposing 2.8 percent edge -- if you use the correct strategy.

    Obviously then, always use the correct strategy -- the simplest expression of which is twofold: let your first bet ride on a pair of 10s or better, and on a possible royal or straight flush. On the second round, if you have improved on the latter hands, let them ride again; but always let that pair of 10s ride -- they?re an automatic winner. Never deviate from that strategy and you?ll keep the house edge hovering at around three percent. Add a few refinements in strategy, such as can be found in my book Bold Card Play, and you?ll lower the house edge still more.

    Always remember that you must be mentally prepared for long losing streaks at Let It Ride because it has a win percentage of approximately one in four hands. That?s right, you lose just about three out of every four hands. Of course, the hands you do win can sometimes be for substantial sums, and that?s why people like to play it.

    Never bet the jackpot side bet. Even though it costs a mere dollar, it is a waste of money. Also, never bet more than the casino is willing to pay out should you win the bet. Note the small print on the Let It Ride signs and you?ll see something to the effect that thus-and-such a casino will not pay out more than ?X? amount on premium hands. So if your bet is high enough that should you win it the payout amounts to a sum over ?X? -- you get an unwelcomed partner in your win as the casino will keep some of the profits of your luck for itself! And you never want that to happen.


    The casinos are always introducing new games or variations of old games with some new slants. These are never introduced to help the player win more or get an edge. They are always introduced to make more money for the casino, either because the games have very high house edges or, more likely, are rather fast-paced with many decisions per hour. But sometimes when approached properly, new games can also be good games. For example, Spanish 21 has gained something of a niche in the casino table-game hierarchy in some parts of the country. But many players, in fact most players, have no idea how to play it. They make a common error of playing a new game using an old strategy. Never use the Basic Strategy for traditional blackjack at Spanish 21 or you?ll be giving the house much too large an edge. Always use the Armada Strategy from my book Armada Strategies for Spanish 21, which was especially created for this new game and cuts the edge to a rather low 0.82 percent.

    If you are not skilled in Pai Gow poker, always set your hands based on how the house sets its hands. This is one of the few times when mimicking what the house does is good for you. The other time is Three Card Poker -- always mimic what the house does and make the ?play? bet when you have a queen high or better.


    Never play full coin in equal-distribution machines. These are also called straight multipliers. For example, if one coin wins you 200 on the top jackpot line, and two coins win you $400 and three coins win you $600 -- the machine isn?t giving you anything to reward you for playing full coin. Always play one. This way you'll be able to stretch your time at the machine for less risk or play longer for the exact same risk.

    In buy-a-pay machines, where extra coins add extra winning symbols, never play two coins as the gain is not great enough for the extra risk. Always play full coin because the final coin greatly improves your winning prospects.

    If you are looking for steady wins or small losses over extended periods of time, never play giant progressive machines such as Megabucks. The house edge is just too great. The giant progressives usually come in with house edges of 15 percent, sometimes more, rarely less. It is very difficult to go home a winner on a machine that is taking $15 for every $100 wagered for the casino. It is much easier to win on a given night on a machine that is returning anywhere from 96 to 98 percent as many slot machines of the "stand-alone" variety (i.e., no progressive meters) do. In fact, if a casino is "certifying" that all the machines in a bank are returning 98 percent, those are the machines to play. But always make sure that the sign says "all" and not "up to" because then only one machine has to be returning the high amount. The others could be as tight as a clam.

    However, if you are the type of player who loves to dream about those life-changing moments, then always play progressives and always play full coin in them. Life can?t change all that drastically when you win on stand-alone slot machines or when you play one coin in a giant progressive and those mega-symbols come up.

    Always remember that all these new bonus games and multiline machines come with this caveat -- to generate the money for the bonus rounds, the main game has to skimp on the payout percentages. If you want to play these new games, never get caught underfunded. Multiline machines can make a seemingly 5-cent player into a $12.50 per-spin player. Those multilines add up! And always slow your pace on the machines. Relax. What's your hurry? The machie isn't going anywhere, nor is the casino. The only thing that might go is your money if you go too fast.

    Always play the same strategy for three-play, five-play, or ten-play video-poker machines of a given type as you would for a stand-alone version. The fact that you are playing multiple hands at the same time never alters your strategy. And if you are going to play those three-play, five-play, or ten-play machines, always try to play the best pay tables. These, and the proper strategies to use when playing them, can be found in my book Victory at Video Poker.

    Some of Frank's most popular books can be purchased by clicking one of the image links below:

    cover cover cover cover

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