Game Speed and Decisions for Casino Players

by Frank Scoblete

Casino games speed and how game speed determines your gambling decisions is the topic for this lesson.
Once you have learned the strategies and games that keep the house edge at bay, then you must look at game speed.
Some games are very fast and some games are more or less leisurely. Machines have whatever speed you want them to have.
There are also some games where your money is at risk on each and every decision.
For just about all gamblers, the slower a game is played the better. This dictum has one exception and that concerns players who actually play with an edge over the house, then the faster the speed, the better for them. You’ve heard the slogan--“Speed Kills.”
That very same slogan could be applied to casino games as well. Even games with relatively benign house edges can become ravenous, malignant monsters sucking the lifeblood out of your bankroll when decisions pile upon decisions in short order.

Just look at mini-baccarat, a game with a low house edge on two of its three bets (just over 1 percent), and we can appreciate how game speed can make play deadly for the players.
Let us take the best bet at the game, the Bank bet, and see what happens to our hourly loss rate as we start to accelerate the number of game decisions.
If you bet $10 per decision, you can expect to lose about 12 cents per decision in the long run. If you play 40 game decisions per hour, you can expect to lose $4.00 per hour of play. Now watch:

    50 decisions = $6.00 per hour
    60 decisions = $7.20 per hour
    70 decisions = $8.40 per hour
    80 decisions = $9.60 per hour
    90 decisions = $10.80 per hour
    100 decisions = $12.00 per hour

Okay, you say, how many people playing mini-baccarat will play 100 decisions per hour? The answer might startle you: almost everyone. In fact, it is not unusual for mini-baccarat to have 150 decisions per hour – an expected loss for the $10 player of $18 per hour!
Even with a low house edge, the $10 player at mini-baccarat will lose almost as much per hour as a player facing an outrageous 5.26 percent house edge at roulette. Roulette will have about 35 decisions per hour. A $10 player stands to lose $18.40!

Of course, when you think about it game speed changes everything.
When gaming writers talk about which games and bets at various games are the best, we often just talk about the house edge.
But game speed must be considered also. We ignore speed at our own peril.
The ideal game for the player would be one that has a very low house edge and a very slow pace. For the casino, the ideal game is a high house edge and a high speed.
The casino usually gets its wishes and in the high-house-edge high-speed stakes, they come up a winner – it’s called slot machines! Even though players can choose their own speed at the slots, just like most motorists on highways, the players tend to think the faster they go, the better off they will be.
Most slot players will play approximately 8-12 decisions per minute or 480 to 720 decisions per hour – all those into house edges ranging from one to about 17 percent! Yeow!
Here is a list of the games and the approximate house edges and speeds that you will face:

Game House Edge % Speed/Decisions/hour
Blackjack 0.5 60-90
Baccarat 1.25 40
Mini-Baccarat 1.25 100 - 150
Caribbean Stud 2.6 50
Let It Ride 2.8 80
Three Card Poker 2.2 80
Roulette 5.26 35 - 40
Craps various various based on bets
Machines: VP-Slots 1 to 17% 480 - 720

So what’s the bottom line on speed? Slow down! What’s your rush? Where are you going with fast play? Nowhere fast!

I conclude these 2 gambling lessons about house edge, game speed and decisions with this information.
Most casino games do not require a high degree of skill on the part of the player in order to play skillfully. Games such as Three-Card Poker, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud and most of the newer table games have simple strategies that, if adhered to, will keep the house edge as low as it can go. Those strategies, coupled with a disciplined money management system while being mindful of game speed and decisions, can make a player last for a long, long time of fun in pleasant surroundings.
Games such as craps require only that you learn to utilize the best bets and eschew the high house edge bets – and, of course, learn how the game is played. Even though at first glance craps is a confusing game, it is, when broken down into its essentials, as easy as one, two, three.

Of all the table games, only blackjack presents us with a strategy that does require some intense effort on the part of the player to learn. Called “basic strategy,” it is the computer-derived play of every player hand against every possible dealer upcard. It usually takes a good 10 to 20 hours to memorize it.
Of course, if you are not the memorizing type, all you have to do is pick up a strategy card and you are in business. When confronted by a hand that is puzzling you, just look at your strategy card and it will tell you what the right decision is. Simple!

From game speed and decisions, let’s talk about Casino Math
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