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John Grochowski

John Grochowski

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Updated: October 29, 2012 6:09AM



If you play much low-limit blackjack, no doubt something like this has happened to you.

I’d arrived at a casino about 9 a.m., figuring I could take advantage of early-day sparse crowds and low table minimums. I found a $10 table and bought in for $200, with four $25 chips, 19 $5 chips and five $1 chips so I had a little starting change to tip dealers and waitresses.

It was a pretty ordinary session, up a little here, down a little there, and after a couple of hours I was ahead by $7.50. And it was a pretty ordinary crowd. I was the first player at the table. Others came and went, and the most playing at any one time was five.

There were three others playing with me when the pit supervisor approached.

“In half an hour, the table minimum is going up to $25,” he said.

There was grumbling all around. No one was consistently betting $25 a hand, though a couple of players sometimes reached $25 as they varied their bet sizes.

I’d been in the situation many times before, so I spoke up.

“Will those already playing be grandfathered in at $10?” I asked.

The pit supervisor said no, it would be a $25 minimum for everyone.

It was worth a shot. I’ve been grandfathered in at lower betting minimums before. I had one more question.

“Will any of the other tables have $10 minimums?”

The supervisor said no, but he pointed to a table he said was currently at $15 and would be staying there.

One of the most important rules for a cautious gambler is to avoid overbetting your bankroll. If you’re playing 100 hands an hour at a table with two or three other players, at a $10 table you’re making $1,000 worth of bets per hour, while with a $25 minimum, that soars to $2,500.

If the house edge is 0.6 percent against a basic strategy player — pretty normal at a six-deck game where the dealer hits soft 17, with some variation depending on other rules — the average hourly loss is $6 an hour at the $10 table, and $15 at the $25 table.

The crowd was growing, and I knew the $15 table would fill all seven chairs, slowing the game to 50 hands an hour or so. That would mean less risk per hour than I’d have at the half-empty $10 table.

I thanked the supervisor and picked up my chips. It was time to move, before others filled the $15 table that was to be the lowest-minimum in the house.

John Grochowski is a local freelance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.



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