(2013-09-03) Gaming Chips : Jetons & Plaques
See also: Poker chips.
Before they gamble, in most cases, casino patrons are expected to trade their money for
casino currency (called checks or marks by the pros)
consisting either of round disks (jetons or gaming chips)
or rectangular plaques (sometimes called bricks for the top denominations).
This "play money" is very effective at separating gamblers from their actual money before
they lose it. It's also easier to manipulate for the casino.
The standard casino chips are flat disks with a diameter commonly identified
as 39 mm or 19/16''
(which translates into 39.6875 mm, if you must know).
The diameter is best specified as 1.55'' = 39.37 mm,
known far and wide as 39.4 mm (9 chips span almost 14 inches).
Barney, the dinosaur,
has entertained preschoolers since 1992.
The $500 purple gaming chip is named after him...
Within a given casino, the chips are color-coded according to their denominations.
There's no universal color-code but the table below comes close to it.
Chip manufacturers respect it, at least for the most common denominations
with the possible exception of the $1 chip, which isn't always white.
Most experienced dealers would nevertheless understand a "color change" request
for "whites and reds" even if they work at a place where the $1 chips aren't white...
Semi-Standard Color Code for Casino Checks (round chips = jetons)
Value and Nickname
Dominant Color and Nickname
Today (2013) "snapper" is a very popular nickname for the $2.50 chip.
The word "flamingo" is rarely used, if ever, but it might explain the etymology of that
more popular nickname, because of the close association of the two words:
A flamingo snapper is a
popular toy consisting of a stick
with the head of
a pink flamingo whose large beak can snap shut to grab small objects
as the children pretend the bird is eating.
Another possibilty is that the chip is named after the
which is pink.
Finally, a blackjack is also dubbed a snapper
for one of two reasons which may combine into yet another explanation for the name of the chip:
With cards dealt face down, you'd snap a blackjack face up.
A $1 bet is paid off with a $2.50 snapper if you have a blackjack.
The Las Vegas
casino was indirectly named after the bird, not the chip:
Flamingo was the nickname of the infamous
of mobster Bugsy Siegel (1906-1947)
who financed the construction of the original building in 1946.
Poker games that use $2.50 as small blind
make extensive use of the chip (such games are thus known as pink games ).
Currently, only one line of home-use poker chips accomodates that
tradition: The Nile Club ceramic chips (see picture at right).
Formerly, some major casinos (including
Caesars Palace ) had
brown-colored 5000 jetons
(appropriately nicknamed "chocolate-chips" or "chocolates").
This was discontinued, in part, because professional cheaters
could take advantage of the lack of contrast with
the widespread red $5 nickels
in a "past-posting" cheating move where winning bets of three nickels ($15) were replaced by two nickels
with a chocolate chip at the bottom ($5010). That risky move was infamously improved upon
in 1995, with great "success", by two professional cheats
(Richard Marcus and Pat Mallery) as explained in a recent
Marcus named the new move
after his favorite Reno stripper. It consisted of carefully tucking
a chocolate chip under three nickels and substituting that with four nickels only if the
bet lost. Surveillance scrutiny for many $20 losses isn't nearly as intense as it is for
a single $5015 winning bet. With the Savannah move, the latter is perfectly legitimate and
can resist any investigation of video surveillance records.
The elimination of chocolate chips made Savannah moves more difficult to execute,
especially since casino personnel are now very aware of the scheme.
The above color code for round checks is also used for the background of the signs which indicate
table limits (the color corresponds to the smallest chip that can be played by itself).
For example, on craps tables,
red signs indicate a $5 to $500 limit
and green signs advertise a $25 to $1000 limit .
This color-coding isn't always respected and it's not applicable to limits
that do not correspond to widely avaible chip denominations.
I'm told that casinos in Connecticut use yellow and orange, respectively, for $10 and $15 tables.
On their main floors, casinos have little or no use for tokens beyond $10,000
since they rarely allow any bet above $25,000, if ever.
In secluded salons however, they can accomodate the needs of high-rollers with
oversized baccarat chips (43 mm or more in diameter)
which are issued in larger denominations, exclusively for baccarat.
This is part of the mystique and decorum engineered around that game to attract very large bets.
Among the legendary jetons with the highest cash denominations is the
$100,000 Baccarat Chip
manufactured by Paulson (part of Gaming Partners InternationalGPIC)
for the Paris Las Vegas casino.
It's sky blue with three bluish triple radial stripes; and a white insert bearing a microdot.
Rectangular gaming plaques or bricks are for the highest denominations.
The record was set by plaques for
which were introduced, as a publicity stunt, in the London Club at the Aladdin when the
Aladdin Resort & Casino
(now called Planet Hollywood) reopened, on August 17, 2000.
Their other plaques were: $5 million, $1 million, $500,000 and $100,000.
(2013-09-02) Faro (bucking the tiger) in the Old West.
Top banking game in the US, from 1825 to 1915.
It survived in Nevada until 1985.
Betting on a card that has already appeared three times entails no casino edge.
In the faro layout, there are 13 spots where a flat bet
can be placed on a single card, 19 spots where a bet staddles two adjacent cards,
1 apot to bet on three cards (6,7,8) and 5 ways to bet on four cards at once.
A bet wagered on several cards is decided in its entirety when one
of the covered card wins or loses. If the winning and losing cards are
different and are both covered, the bet is returned to the punter.
(If a split occurs, half the bet is lost).
The bet called "High Card" pays even money when the winning card is higher than the
losing card (on Faro, the ace is the losing card).
Two hands are dealt according to fixed rules.
One of them is called the player's hand (punto)
the other is the banker's hand (banco).
The value of a baccarat hand is obtained by adding the
face values of the cards modulo 10
(which is a fancy way of saying that only the least significant digit of the
ordinary sum is retained). An ace is worth 1 and a 10 is worth 0.
The picture cards (K.Q.J) are also worth 0.
Initially, two cards are drawn to both sides (facing the dealer,
the player's hand is to the left and the dealer's hand is to the right).
If either hand is a "natural" (i.e., the player shows a total of 8 or 9
and/or the banker has 8 or 9) then no more cards are drawn and the
bets are settled with the two-card totals.
Fifth-Card Rule :
The player's hand receives a third and final card when it shows a
total of 5 or less. Otherwise (when the player shows 6 or 7)
an extra card is attributed to the banker instead, according
to the same rule (the banker thus receives a third and final
card if holds 5 or less).
Sixth-Card Rule :
When the player did receive an extra card as prescribed above,
the rule which attributes or denies a final
card to the banker is more intricate.
It depends on the banker's current total and also
on the player's third card:
(2013-08-27) EZ Baccarat(™).
The Dragon-7 and Panda-8 side-bets.
The Dragon Bet pays 40 to 1 when Banker wins with a 3-card total of 7.
The Panda Bet pays 25 to 1 when Player wins with a 3-card total of 8.
In classical Punto-Banco, the statistical bias in favor
of the banker's hand is offset by the 5% "commission" the casino takes on
winning banker wagers.
That commission can be a source of confusion for beginning baccarat players.
It also entails time-comsuming and error-prone bookeeping tasks for the dealers.
Some variants of Baccarat exist which eliminate the need for commissions
by replacing some banker wins by a push (paying 0 to 1 instead of 1 to 1
to whoever placed a wager on the banker's hand).
The most popular of those "No-Commision Baccarat" games is dubbed
The rules of EZ-Baccarat are the same as the rules of baccarat,
except in the special case where the banker would normally win
with a three-card total of 7.
In that special case, a bet on banker is a push in EZ-baccarat, not a win.
This is the sole source of income for the house, as no commission are paid in EZ Baccarat.
The Dragon-7 Bet
From the very inception of EZ-baccarat, an "insurance" bet was devised which allows one
to benefit when the aforementioned special case occurs.
It pays 40 to 1 and is called the dragon bet (or dragon-7).
The average house-edge on that bet is 7.6%.
The Panda-8 Bet
This is a side-bet which, unlike the dragon bet, is not tied to the structure of the
main rules of EZ Baccarat.
The panda bet is simply the bet that the player hand wins with a three-card total of 8.
It pays 25 to 1 and the average house-edge is 10.2%.
The Panda bet is a later addition to the EZ-Baccarat layout, targeting Chinese players for
whom the number 8
is considered especially lucky in games of chance
(it sounds like the word for wealth or prosperity).
By contrast, the number 4 is considered unlucky because it sounds like the
Chinese word for "death". This is why, incidentally, the seven positions
at many mini-baccarat tables are numbered from 1 to lucky-8, skipping unlucky 4.
DEQ Systems Corp. claims ownership
of the locutions "EZ Baccarat", "Dragon 7" and "Panda 8".
(2013-08-27) Caribbean Stud®
/ Casino Stud Poker
Call if you have A,K,J,8,3 or better.
You can either fold (and forfeit your ante) or call
by placing an additional wager equal to twice your ante.
A better way to look at the whole process is that you're actually
betting three units and are given the opportunity to surrender if
your hand is too weak, by forfeiting one third of your total wager
(the fact that two third of your wager remain in your pocket at all times
when you fold is immaterial, because if you did not have that
money in your pocket, you'd be unable to raise and would always
foolishly lose your ante).
If the dealer doesn't qualify (with A,K or better)
you win even money on your ante (only) and keep your call bet.
If the dealer qualifies and beats your hand, you lose both wagers.
If the dealer qualifies but doesn't beat your hand, you win even money
on your ante and get rewarded for your call bet if you hold a pair or better:
Pair: 1 to 1
Two Pairs: 2 to 1
Three of a Kind: 3 to 1
Straight: 4 to 1
Flush: 5 to 1
Full House: 7 to 1
Four of a Kind: 20 to 1
Straight Flush: 50 to 1
Royal Flush: 100 to 1
The optimal strategy doesn't depend at all on the payout schedule.
The dealer shows one of his five cards.
This gives away a tiny bit of information which could influence the player's
decision (in a complicated way) but only marginally so.
As a first approximation, let's assume that the player turns a blind
eye to the dealer's up card. What would be the player's optimal strategy
if all the dealer's cards were face-down?