Figuring out how much you will lose is easy

Dear Mark,
Is there a way to project your total losses in a casino? I play the slots and blackjack. Susan G.

Yes, Susan, you can estimate how long your gambling funds will last. However, how much you will probably lose will depend on which games you play and which bets you make on those games.

Here's how you can easily calculate your loses. Begin by multiplying each bet that you make by the house edge; then multiple that result by the number of bets you will make in each playing session (hour). For example, if you are playing three coins per pull on a dollar slot machine that has a house edge of three percent, and you are pulling the handle 200 times per hour, you can expect to lose about $18 per hour ($3 X .03 X 200 = $18). Quarter play, where the machine has a house edge of eight percent, would figure like this: ($0.75 X .08 X 200 = $12). The same mathematical formula holds true for blackjack players as well. If your average bet is $10, and you play half way decent game with the casino edge of, letıs say 2%, multiply that by 60 hands per hour, and your total losses will be $12 per hour ($10 X .02 X 60 = $12).

Naturally, Susan, your actual results will vary significantly based on the randomness of slot play, the casino advantage on each machine, or your skill level at blackjack, but at least this simple calculation does give you a pretty good idea of your potential loss. Use those figures to set your minimum and maximum bet levels, and control your total bankroll accordingly.

Dear Mark,
Does the "natural" in blackjack have to be a black jack (clubs, spades) and a black ace? David V.

In gaming, the word "natural" is used both in blackjack and baccarat. In blackjack, you do not need the inclusion of a black jack nor ace for the hand to be a natural. A natural can be any two-card hand that adds up to 21. For example, an ace of diamonds and a 10 of hearts would be considered a natural. In baccarat, a natural is any two-card total of eight (le petit natural) or nine (le grande natural).

Dear Mark,
Which is a more advantageous for the player in Blackjack? Early or late surrender. David C.

Surrender is a rules option allowed in certain casinos where a player may give up half his wager after he views the dealer up card. Between the two, early surrender is more advantageous for blackjack players; that is, David, if you can find it. You won't in Biloxi. Actually, you rarely see it except infrequently on a video blackjack machine or a short-term casino promotion.

With early surrender, the casino allows the player to surrender his hand and relinquish half the bet before the dealer checks his hole card. This reduces the casino's edge by a whopping 0.6%, making it one of the most favorable blackjack playing rules allowed. A definite loser for the casino when used correctly by a proficient player.

Late surrender allows a player to abandon a hand after the dealer has checked his hole card for a blackjack. If the dealer has a snapper, you lose. This rule reduces the casino's advantage by only 0.08%.

Gambling thought of the week: "It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck." - Joseph Conrad