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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Readers Take Their Turn to Deal the Questions

9 January 2008

"At blackjack, my soft 18 play is to stand against a dealer's 7 or 8, double against 2 through 6, and hit against a 9, 10, and ace. Agree?" - Joe A.

Those are indeed the correct plays when holding a soft 18 (A/7), but many times those unfamiliar with basic strategy will give players who make those plays icy glances because they look at the hand as 18 and nothing to mess with.

On the contrary, it's a prime opportunity to take advantage of a weak dealer up-card, or attempt to make a good hand even better and go for a win. If you assume the dealer has a 10 in the hole, you should stand against a 7 or 8, because you're either going to win or push the hand.

Doubling down against a 2 through 6 means by taking a hit you cannot bust and quite possibly can make a nice little score. If the dealer has a 9, 10, or Ace you are on the defensive. Once again you can't bust with a hit, and an ace, deuce or trey is going to set you up for a possible win.

"I am probably the No. 1 video poker fan in the world. The random number generators are totally baloney. Random only refers to the cards you receive when you are in a winning or losing mode. IGT and all you writers call that random. I do not. Random number generators are random in separate modes." - Frank S.

The very foundation of the gaming industry is based upon the integrity of the games. Before being introduced on casino floors, the games are thoroughly tested by independent laboratories for randomness and re-tested by individual state regulators.

Take my word for it. The video poker games developed by IGT assure that every hand you are dealt and every card you draw is as random as a computer program will allow and as close to shuffling and dealing from your own 52-card deck at the kitchen table as technology will allow.

A virtual deck is constantly "shuffling" between plays. When you hit the deal button, the shuffling stops and five cards are dealt from the top of the deck, popping up left to right on the screen. While you are deciding which cards you want to hold, the remaining 47 cards are shuffling. After you decide and hit the draw button, the cards stop shuffling and the x-number of cards you need to fill your draw hand come off the top one by one and fill in the vacated spots left to right.

Whereas the payback percentages of video and reel slots are a closely guarded casino secret, those of video poker are an open book for educated players. Casinos make their money on the pay tables which are there for everyone to see. Some pay tables are "tighter" than others, so that's why it pays to shop around.

Finally, the randomness of a playing a nickel or quarter video poker game as opposed to a dollar or five dollar game does not change. The games will have identical return percentages given the same pay table.

"Do you know where I can buy Four Card Keno or 20 Card Keno on a DVD?" - A keno player.

You can play slots, blackjack, poker, roulette, craps, you name it, on DVD but unfortunately, my search for the product you are looking for turned up empty. There are books written about keno but I could not locate a DVD. An internet search leads to sites promoting online gambling which I would stay away from.

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