# What's your (gambling) game of choice?

Here’s the set-up: You are dropped of in front of a casino with a thousand bucks in your right pocket and instructions to gamble until that pocket is empty. If you get any winnings they are to go in your left pocket and stay there-gamble from the right pocket only.

1. What game(s) of chance are you going to play and
2. How much money (if any) do you expect to have in your left pocket once your right pocket is empty?

Omaha Hi-Lo. I expect to have anywhere between 700 and 1100 bucks at the end depending on my luck and the skill of the other players.

I’d probably go with Black Jack, and expect to have \$750+ in the left pocket, if I understood the question correctly–any winning hand payouts go to the left pocket, and all new bets come from the right? This would be playing “Basic Strategy”, and not attempting to count cards–which I haven’t done in years and was never very good at anyway.

Poker against other players is not a game of chance, so breaks the premise in the OP.

Not trying to fight the hypo, but I need more info. If my objective is to maximise my enjoyment, and time is not a factor, I’ll play Blackjack, probably for \$25 a hand. With a good dealer/table, that could be a fun way to while away a couple of hours, and I would expect to leave with around \$500.

If the goal is to maximise the expected value of the money in my left pocket by the end, I think some sort of Martingale strategy might be appropriate, either on even money roulette bets or (my preference, especially if a 00 wheel) Blackjack. I’d probably go with an initial bet size of 1/31 of my remaining bankroll (i.e. the contents of my right pocket, including the current stake). That’s a starting stake of \$32, which would allow for 5 losses in a row (assuming doubling the bet on every loss) before going bust. If the first bet wins, I move the winnings to my left pocket, reduce the stake slightly, and go again. If the first bet of any of these sequences loses, I double it. I’m not sure what the EV would be on this strategy but since the worst-possible outcome is losing \$1,000, and the second-worst (four losses followed by a win) leaves \$512 in my left pocket and \$512 still on the table (plus \$8 still in the right pocket), I expect the overall EV to be slightly more than \$500.

And, having worked all that out, I see it probably wouldn’t maximise my EV at all - that can be achieved by a single bet of \$1,000 on an even money chance, which has EV of just under \$1,000, exact amount depending on which game you play. You’re about 48% to end up with \$2,000 in your left pocket, and 52% to have nothing.

Roulette, and I’d expect to leave with approximately \$947 in my left pocket. I know that blackjack has a higher payout, but it plays slower. For someone who enjoys gambling, slower play is a positive, because you get to spend more time doing something that you enjoy… but for me, this whole exercise is just about converting money I’m not allowed to do with as I like into money that I am allowed to do with as I like, and I’d rather do that quickly.

Specifically, I think I’d make about a hundred ten-dollar bets, on one of the even-money picks (even, odd, red, or black-- I’d probably mix it up for variety, because it’s not like it matters which one). That’s enough action that my winnings should be fairly consistent, but still shouldn’t take too long.

EDIT:
Oakminster and Dead Cat, I have no idea how you expect to end up with so little. Remember, you’re never taking anything out of your left pocket. Basic strategy with blackjack should leave you with around \$995, and even if you deviate from basic strategy based on hunches or the like, you should still get somewhere around \$950.

Poker counts-99% of the people playing aren’t as skillful as they think they are.
The goal? Whatever you want it to be. If you want to maximize your profit, or maximize your fun-it doesn’t matter to me.

A live craps table. Playing the pass line and taking odds.

I am a frugal player. Probably quit after three hours. At which time I would have \$500 in the left pocket and \$500 in the right. And it would be a hoot! Cheap entertainment.

What would you play next? The goal is to play until the right pocket is empty, remember?

Of course it is. It is a game of chance in which it is possible to play with enough skill to win consistently, but it is a game of chance. this is rather especially evident in the OP’s scenario, which is one night of play; the likelihood a skilled player will lose anyway is quite high, and the likelihood a mediocre player will win is also surprisingly high. Over years of player that’s not true, but in one night it is. In a game truly not of chance, like chess, that won’t happen. A master will crush an amateur every time.

You would not, I assume, dispute that blackjack is a game of chance, even though there is a correct strategy - a skill - that one can employ to maximize one’s chances of winning. The difference is simply that in blackjack the best you can do is about a 0.5% disadvantage, while in poker you can creep a few percentage points above break even.

If available the answer is Craps, Don’t Pass with as much odds as they will give you. Otherwise Blackjack. If they have Power Blackjack or Free Bet Blackjack take that, otherwise find one that offers 3:2 on BJ and as many of the following as possible: dealer peek, dealer stands on S17, surrender, double after split, split after split, double soft hands.

In the UK I’ve never seen a craps table, and never seen anything except standard BJ so my options would be limited.

Flat bet, low stakes, so the outcome more or less matches the house edge

For you, mini-baccarat would probably be better than roulette. It’s faster, pays out more, and still doesn’t need active play like blackjack.

Poker is a mixture of 15% skill, 80% luck, and 10% mathematics.

…and is lost by those who think that 15% + 10% > 80%.

\$10 Craps table, no question. I’d probably go with a variety of strategies. I’d expect to walk out with anywhere from \$700 to \$2000 due to the variance of odds.

First I’d go with \$300 worth of \$10 darkside every roll (Don’t Pass and Don’t Come) with no odds on anything. This is a very fun, relaxing, and low-risk way to ease yourself into a gambling session. It takes a bit of time, is a lot of action, and it’s highly likely your \$300 will turn into something extremely close to \$300. Ending that with \$280 is a reasonable expectation. Note that this is how I typically start real, normal gambling, and wouldn’t necessarily be needed for the OP’s hypothetical, but I’d still do it anyway.

Then I’d probably go lightside, 3-point (1 Pass and 2 Come) full odds on everything until I ran out of right pocket money. Here’s where you can either win big or lose big with all that variance.

In the end, I’d expect that \$700 of lightside betting to turn into anywhere from \$300 (ouch!) to \$1500 (wheee!). If you only play your money once, 3-point lightside with full odds can halve your money, double it, or anything in between pretty quickly and easily.

Whoosh! (They don’t add up to 100%.)

Blackjack. When several of my friends come to town from back east we usually go to one of the casinos around here. Not my favorite thing, but they love it. So, what I do is usually get \$50 in chips, then play that until it’s all gone…I can usually get 3-4 hours out of it.

Doing it your way, my WAG is I’d have less than \$500 in my left pocket at the end…maybe something like \$250. Depends on how things are going. I’m not a bad player, but it’s hard for me to stay interested after a few hours and I generally start making stupid bets just to see the house manager and floor guy go into whispering conversations, trying to figure out how I’m cheating (even though I’m obviously losing most of the time).

9/6 Jacks or Better video poker. I’d come home with \$800, playing perfect strategy. But who knows? I’ve never hit a Royal so perhaps this would be my chance!

I think it was Phil Helmuth who said something like “Poker is a game of luck. If it were a game of skill I would win all the time”.

I would set up camp in the sports book, assuming the casino was in a state where they’re legal.

Video poker. I don’t like people.

I’d go with a friend, explain the situation, and play one round of “I bet you can’t guess what color I’m thinking of don’t say blue.” I would end up with \$2000 in my pocket, of which I’d hand \$1000 back to my pal.

Without that loophole, I’d blow it on Hold 'em tournaments. I’d expect to walk out with maybe \$200, but there’s a small chance I’d end up with a lot more than \$1000. Low mean, high variance, and I’d have fun doing it.