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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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New Table Game's Low House Edge a Big Deal

26 March 2008

There's an endless parade of new slot machines, but new table games are few and far between. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, table games areas in casinos are shrinking to make room for much more lucrative slot product. Second, good table games that are appealing to gamblers and at the same time profitable for casinos are rare.

That's why when a game like World Poker Tour 3X Raise Hold'Em comes along, it makes gamblers sit up and take notice. Even though it's a house-banked game in which you compete against the dealer, it's enticingly close to playing poker the way it's played in a room against other players.

Available at the present time exclusively at Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, the game has another attraction: According to Michael "The Wizard of Odds" Shackleford, it has a remarkably low house edge of 0.738 percent.

When you take into account the 3.51 percent house advantage on Let It Ride, the 2.31 percent edge on Three Card Poker, and even the less than one percent edge on some blackjack games (contingent upon house rules) using skilled play, World Poker Tour 3X Raise Hold'Em stands tall as an attractive betting proposition.

"It has proven to be a very popular game that our guests have jumped on here," said Matt Harkness, president and general manager of Four Winds. "We started with just one table but we're already looking to expand it."

A standard 52-card deck is used. A round starts by players making an ante bet. Two cards are dealt face-down to each player and the dealer. After you look at your cards, you have a choice to either fold (lose your ante) or raise (make an additional wager three-times your ante).

The dealer must have a qualifying hand in order to call any player who has made a raise. A qualifying hand is any pair, or cards with a blackjack point value of 11 or higher. If not, the dealer folds. Players win even money on their ante and the raise is a push.

If the dealer qualifies, five community cards are dealt the same way as in a Texas Hold'Em poker room game: A burn card, followed by three cards on the flop; another burn card followed by the turn card, and another burn card followed by the river card.

The players and the dealer make their best 5-card hand using their own two dealt cards and the five community cards. Beat the dealer and you win even money on both your ante and raise. Ties are a push.

The optional bets come with a stiff house advantage, 7.24 percent on the "Player's Hole Cards Bonus Bet" and 6.55 percent on the "Player's Final Hand Bonus Bet". Sure, they're fun and the pay tables are alluring, but betting on them consistently will wear you down. Sticking to the base game is the recommended approach to maximize value.

Shackleford performed an analysis of the game and recommends that players raise 91.9 percent of the time. He says to fold on only nine possible two-card hands. See his complete rundown at www.wizardofodds.com by selecting World Poker Tour 3X Raise Hold'Em under the "games and strategies" category on the home page.

CASINO NEWS: Double-Double Bonus is one of the most popular video poker games, but good pay tables are a rarity in the Chicago area, especially for quarter players. Most gamblers have to settle for 9/5, 8/5, even 7/5 pay tables, but over at the Horseshoe Casino Hammond you'll find a bank of Game King quarter machines with 9/6 pay tables along the back wall on the lower level. The machines are even linked to a Royal Flush progressive.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp