What is slow playing in poker?

Not to be confused with ‘slow rolling’, which is the subject of an altogether different question, ‘slow playing’ in poker is a deceptive tactic, whereby a player with a strong hand chooses to represent weakness rather than strength and, in so doing, encourages opponents to keep playing. Rather than playing a hand aggressively, by betting or raising, slow playing involves playing weakly or passively, by just checking or calling before and after the flop, and on the turn, when given the option. Slow playing denies your opponent the opportunity to make any meaningful assumptions about the strength of your hand but, by handing him the initiative, you may cause him to over-commit to the pot, which makes it more difficult for him to fold when faced with a substantial raise in a subsequent betting round.

Poker experts generally agree that slow playing typically works best against loose, very aggressive opponents, who play a high percentage of hands and frequently bet or raise after the flop. This is especially true against a lone opponent in a ‘heads-up’ situation. Similarly, a so-called ‘dry’ flop, with no possible flush or straight draws, and little or no possibility of a ‘free’ turn card that can significantly improve opponents’ hands, creates a favourable situation for slow playing a strong holding. By contrast, betting a dry flop is likely to encourage to fold marginal or drawing hands and result in a pot that is a fraction of the size possible by slow playing.

What is ‘triple zero’ roulette?

Traditionally, the American version of roulette featured 38 numbers, including a single and a double zero. The ‘double zero’ roulette table already increased the house edge to 5.26%, compared with 2.7% for the European version, which features 37 numbers, including just a single zero. However, in recent times, numerous casinos in Las Vegas have introduced ‘triple zero’ roulette which, as the name suggests, features 39 numbers, including a single, a double and a triple zero. The addition of the triple zero – effectively another pocket that is not considered red or black, high or low or odd or even – increases the house edge to 7.69%.

Originally introduced, as ‘Sands Roulette’, at The Venetian in 2016, a triple zero roulette typically offers a lower table limit than double, or single, zero roulette as a ploy to entice recreational gamblers – who may be gambling for enjoyment, rather than to make money – to play at disadvantageous odds. It can be argued that a player making the minimum bet on a triple zero roulette table will lose less, in a given period of time, than a player making the minimum bet on a double zero roulette table, but – akin to blackjack paying odds of 6/5, rather than 3/2, on single-deck tables – the lower table minimum costs 2.43% in terms of the house edge, with no increase in payouts.

What is Spanish 21?

Spanish 21, or Spanish blackjack, is a variant of the classic game of blackjack. As the name suggests, Spanish 21 is traditionally played with the Spanish 48-card deck, although the standard 52-deck, minus the four tens, is equally suitable. Obviously, removing four, or 25%, of the 10-point cards increases the house edge, but only to 0.40%, if the dealer stands on 17, compared with 0.28% for blackjack played under liberal Las Vegas Strip rules. Indeed, in common with liberal Las Vegas Strip rules, Spanish 21 players may double after splitting, resplit aces and late surrender of the first two cards is allowed.

Spanish 21 is akin to blackjack in many ways, although the main difference is that a player 21, including blackjack, always beats a dealer 21. Any five-card, mixed suit 21 pays 3/2, any six-card, mixed suit 21 pays 2/1 and any seven-card, or higher, mixed suit 21 pays 3/1. Similarly, a mixed suit 6,7,8 pays 3/2, a suited 6,7,8 pays 2/1 and a suited 6,7,8 in spades pays 3/1; the same odds apply to 7,7,7 in all three cases although, in the event of a suited 7,7,7, if the dealer is also showing a seven, the player receives a bonus of $1,000, or $2,500 – known as a ‘Super Bonus’ – depending on the size of his or her initial stake. Note that none of these bonuses apply after doubling or splitting.

Where in a casino would you find ‘Little Joe’?

Not to be confused with ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright, the character made famous by the late Michael Landon in the television series ‘Bonanza’ from the late Fifties onwards, ‘Little Joe’ is a traditional – in fact, almost obsolete – term used in casino craps games. The term ‘Little Joe’ was first recorded in the late nineteenth century and is often used, loosely, and erroneously, according to some sources, to describe any roll of four – that is, 1-3, 3-1, or 2-2 – or a point of four in a craps. The term ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’, on the other hand, was a later development and refers specifically to a ‘hard’ four or, in other words, 2-2 alone. For the record, the probability of rolling any four is 3/36, or 1/12, or 8.33%, while the probability of rolling a hard four is 1/36, or 2.77%.

In the case of the latter term, the ‘Little Joe’ in question is believed to be ‘Little Joe’ Fohn, who was one of the top tournament bowlers in Kokomo, Indiana in the Twenties. Interestingly, the first Japanese American jockey in the United States, Yoshio Kobuki – who, his father once joked, was small enough to fit in his jacket pocket – was also nicknamed ‘Kokomo Joe’. However, Kobuki Jnr. was not born until 1918 and did not rise to prominence until the early Forties, by which time the ‘Little Joe from Kokomo’ term was probably already in common usage. It is also interesting to note that U.S. Route 31 and U.S. Route 22 pass through Kokomo, Indiana north-south and west-east, respectively.

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