QUESTION: I was playing Caribbean Stud, and people were looking at each other’s hands. The dealer warned everyone to stop. Then the pit boss came over and said that wasn’t allowed, and if he saw it again, he’d void the hand and maybe even ask players to leave the table.
Can you tell me why? It’s not like this is draw poker. You don’t get to draw any cards, so knowing your neighbors’ cards really doesn’t help you. Does it?
ANSWER: Knowing what cards are out can make a difference in whether you bet a hand or fold it.
In Caribbean Stud, you start with an ante, then if you like your cards, you may place a bet equal to twice the ante. In addition to your own cards, you see one dealer card that is turned face up. If you see cards from other players’ hands, that gives you additional information to base your decision on whether to bet.
For example, let’s say you have Ace-King-8-5-2 of mixed suits, and the dealer has a 6 face up. One of the provisions of basic strategy for Caribbean Stud is that you bet Ace-King provided one of your other cards matches the dealer up card, diminishing the possibility that he or she will have a pair to beat you. If you had no other information, you’d fold this hand.
But suppose you see the player on your right has a pair of 6s, and the player on your left has a 6. Now you know the dealer can’t have a pair of 6s --- they’re all accounted for. The dealer may still have a stronger hand than yours in the face down cards, but the possibilities are diminished enough that it’s now worthwhile to bet the hand.
Casinos have policies against players showing each other their cards in every game in which extra knowledge makes a difference. We’re not supposed to show our cards in blackjack games that are dealt face down, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride or many, many other games. How strictly such policies are enforced vary from casino to casino.
QUESTION: I saw something at the craps table the other night that I’d never seen before. A guy was making put bets no matter what the point was. I’ve seen guys make put bets on 6 or 8, but this guy was doing it on 4, 10, 5, and 9 --- all of them. I asked him why he was doing that, and he said he used to just cover the numbers with place bets, but then his father-in-law told him about put bets. He figures with free odds, he’s ahead of the game. That doesn’t sound right to me.
ANSWER: Seems like this fellow needs to take one more step. He’s gone from place to put and now it’s time to go from put to pass.
Put bets are essentially pass line bets without the come-out roll. The player makes the put bet after the shooter has established a point, and may back the bet with free odds. The put bet itself is paid at even money, and the free odds are paid at the true odds of making the point, just as with a pass bet with odds.
Put is a weaker bet than pass because the player is giving up the come-out roll. On the come-out, the pass player has eight ways to win (six two-dice combinations that total 7 and two that total 11) and only four ways to lose (one way to make 12, one way to make 2, two ways to make 3).
The put bettor is giving up the portion of the pass line bet on which the player has an edge.
Put bets aren’t even as good as place bets, unless the player backs his wagers with plenty of odds. The put bet itself pays just even money, while place bets pay 7-6 odds on 6 or 8, 7-5 on 5 or 9 and 9-5 on 4 or 10. Bet $5 on 10, and you win $9 on a place bet, but only $5 on a put bet.
I can almost see a player who has been sticking to place bets on 6 or 8 deciding put plus odds is a better option. With 5x odds, the put bet has the same 1.52 percent house edge as a place bet on 6 or 8. With more odds, the put bet is better. With less, the house edge is lower on the place bets.
But no matter how much odds you take with your put bet, the house edge is never as low as the pass line bet backed by the same amount of odds. Giving up the come-out is a killer.
When you put 4 or 10, or 5 or 9, the put bet becomes as good as a place bet with 4x odds. With 6x odds, putting the 4 or 10 becomes as good as buying those numbers. But remember, place bets on numbers other than 6 or 8 are weak to begin with. Placing 5 or 9, or putting with 4x odds, yields a house edge of 4 percent. The house edge is 6.67 percent on placing, or putting with 4x odds, 4 or 10, and it’s 4.67 percent when you buy, or put with 4x odds, the 4 or 10.
Much better to bet on the pass line, get the advantage of the come-out roll, back with as much free odds as you’d take with the put bets, and drop the house edge to a figure that can be measured in tenths of a percent or less --- from 0.8 percent with single odds to 0.02 percent if you’re offered, and can afford, 100x odds.
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