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Weighing the options

Weighing the options

Table games present players with options galore.

That doesn’t mean players should take them all. Some, you should avoid entirely.

One-roll propositions in craps fall into that category. So do tie bets in baccarat and five-number baskets in roulette. The house edges are higher than other bets at the table.

Sometimes, the never-evers are a little more subtle. Let’s single out a few options that are better left untaken.

**Betting 3x your ante in Ultimate Texas Hold’em: Before the deal, you must make equal-sized ante and blind bets.

After you see the two cards that are dealt to you face down, you can make a “play” bet of four times your ante, three times your ante, or check and wait until you’ve seen community cards to decide whether to stay in the hand.

If you haven’t already bet, you can bet twice your ante after you’ve seen three community cards or bet equal to your ante after you’ve seen all five. Only after you’ve seen all five must you fold if you don’t bet.

Make a 4x bet if you have a pair of 3s or better, any Ace-high hand; King-high with a 5 or higher if unsuited, or with 2, 3 or 4 in the same suit as the King; Queen-high with an 8 or higher unsuited or a 6 or 7 suited; Jack high with a 10 unsuited or an 8 or 9 suited.

Never bet 3x your ante. Bet 4x or check and wait for more cards.

**Betting 2x your ante in Mississippi Stud: After you’ve seen two cards, you have the option of folding or betting one, two or three times your ante. You have the same option after you’ve seen a third card, and again after you’ve seen a fourth.

Never make the 2x bet. A strong hand is worth a 3x bet. A lesser hand that gives you a reasonable chance at a pay table that starts at a pair of 6s is worth a 1x bet.

There’s not room for a full strategy here. For that, check out Michael Shackelford at But we can look at the two-card strategy to see how this works.

Consider Jacks or higher as two-point cards, 6s through 10s as one point and lesser cards as zero. Bet 3x your ante with any pair. Bet 1x your ante with consecutive cards of the same suit at 6-5 or higher. And bet 1x your ante with at least two points. Jack-3 would qualify. So would 9-6.

You might bet 1x, you might bet 3x, but 2x is never the optimal wager.

**Doubling for less in blackjack. No doubt you’ve seen this move. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself.

You bet $10 and you’re dealt 6-5. A great start, but the dealer has a 10 up. The basic strategy chart says to double down, but you’re not confident against a 10. So you double down, but only for another $5.

That’s understandable, but the more profitable move is to double for the full $10.

Whenever basic strategy calls for you to double down, it’s because you have an advantage. With 6-5 against a 10 in a six-deck game, standing will bring an average profit of 11.8 cents per $1 wagered. Double for the full amount, and that increases to 17.8 cents per dollar of your original wager. Double for half your original wager, and that drops to 13.4 cents.

You have the edge, so take full advantage. Accept that you’re going to lose sometimes, but that with average results, you’ll win more often. Full doubles maximize profits.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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