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La Famiglia: Revisited

Started by Jake Norwood, April 05, 2003, 06:17:58 PM

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Mike Holmes

Then, Brian, the card would be useless in about fifty percent of plays (as it would bust you). In another 25% of plays it would only get you to the point where you'd need to draw again, anyhow. You don't need 21 to win. You just need better than the dealer. Small is better.

Also, how would this relate to the five card rule, Jake?

BTW, the way that the house gets it's edge is that it usually either wins on pushes (ties), or wins automatically when it draws Blackjack (you'll know these casinos because they have little automatic thingies that look at the hole card to tell the dealer if it's an ace so they can just turn it over and take your money).

Mike "never been to Potowatomi casino as far as you know" Holmes
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Jake Norwood

5 card rule? I think that means that if you survive to the 5th card (3 hits) you win, but I'm not sure.

As for the dealer winning on blackjack--I think I'll cut that out, to even things up. That being said, I'm really not sure what advantage the dealer has.

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Brian Leybourne

Quote from: Jake Norwood5 card rule? I think that means that if you survive to the 5th card (3 hits) you win, but I'm not sure.

As for the dealer winning on blackjack--I think I'll cut that out, to even things up. That being said, I'm really not sure what advantage the dealer has.

Jake

In some versions of blackjack, if you pull 5 cards and you still have not gone bust, you automatically win. No casino I have ever been in plays that rule, but it does appear in Hoyles (which I have an 1800's copy of). Ignoring that rules is just one of the ways the casino pulls back the advantage, I suppose.

As for the dealer winning on BJ, usually if the dealer shows an Ace you get the chance to buy insurance - bid as many chips as you like for the dealer getting a BJ. If he doesn't you lose your "insurance" but if he does, you get it back doubled, although you lose your original bet of course. This works totally in the houses advantage, because of course only 4 of the 13 possible variations of the 2nd card actually give the dealer a BJ (10,j,q,k) so there's only a 4/13 chance they'll have to pay you out (and in that case, they have your original bet to offset it anyway).

As I say, I have not looked in depth to see what the house advantage is with BJ, but there must be one or they wouldn't be playing it, they're not charities. If a game loses more money for the casino than it makes, they wont play it.

Brian.
Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion

Mike Holmes

Yes that's the five card rule. If in play, either side can win with it so it doesn't affect edge. I was just thinking that, if you had a "sleeve card" and the rule was in effect that an ace would make such a win much more likely.

As to the edge, I've described it above. Basically, the house has an even chance of winning. The only thing that gives it it's edge is that it wins on ties, or, more commonly with Blackjack. Brian, the insurance case allows the player to theoretically mitigate his losses, but as you point out, really only reduces the losses in a small percentage of cases. But the other case is where the ace is on the bottom. That's when the little detectors com into play, and the house wins before anyone can even do anything. I think with pushes, the house edge is something like 5%, with blackjack normally it's about 1%, and with insurance it comes to .5%. Twice these numbers if you consider the "swing".

Yes, Blackjack is in most cases the best game to play against the house as the edge is miniscule. You can see the house rate posted by law somewhere in the casino. It'll say something like "The house take is 50.5%" meaning that if you play 1000 games for 10 dollars each, that the house will win 505 of them, and lose 495. Resulting in a total loss of 100 dollars.

This thin edge is what keeps blackjack players coming back. They know intuitively that all they need is some tiny edge, and they can overcome the house edge. This is why the houses use multiple decks of cards, and watch for card-counters. Even with multiple decks, a good card counter can overcome the house edge. Takes forever, but it can be done.

Compare this with, say Roulette. With a French wheel (one zero), the edge is 2.7% (1 in 37), with an American wheel (add a double zero), the edge is 5.2% (2 in 38).

Poker and betting on horses and sports actually have larger edges for the house (assuming they're efficient at setting spreads), but you have the hope that you're smarter than the next guy, which, if true gives you the edge. (the main problem being that you're not smarter than the wiseguys)

Mike
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Valamir

The only games I know that is weighted less in the houses favor than Black Jack is Pai Gow Poker (which is possible to play for hours and never loose money because of the generous rules for pushing) and Baccarat which I believe is exactly 50/50.

Which is why you rarely ever see these games offered in casinos.

Mike Holmes

Games like Baccarat and Poker, "fair" games, are only played between the people who come to play. The house does not participate. (This is why they're always playing Baccarat in Bond films, so the characters can play head to head). The way the house makes money is serving drinks, and lodging, etc. They're rare because it's so easy to make so much money on the rigged games.

Anyhow, I'd definitely play "fair" Blackjack (also known as 21), Jake. But that still doesn't allow for characters or player skill to affect the outcome other than preventing inordinate numbers of losses (a player can't play well enough to win regularly, but he can play well enough to lose only half the time).

Aren't these prerequisites for your designs?

Mike
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Ron Edwards

Hello,

To my understanding, part of the house advantage in blackjack is that the dealer is constrained to incontrovertible rules regarding hits and stays. These rules happen to be optimal. However, the gambler tendency is to try to overreach them; for some reason, the human mind finds it hard to believe that you can go bust from 14 very easily and prefers to think of the cutoff as being around 17 or 18.

When the dealer always stays at a 14, if even 51% of the people playing can't stand it and typically ask for a hit at 14, the house comes out ahead. (Example is slightly simplified from the actual rules/standards.)

Note that I said "part" of the house advantage. Giving ties to the house and similar are involved too.

Best,
Ron

Valamir

Quote from: Mike HolmesGames like Baccarat and Poker, "fair" games, are only played between the people who come to play. The house does not participate. (This is why they're always playing Baccarat in Bond films, so the characters can play head to head).
Mike

Actually Baccarat is played against the house like Black Jack, or Craps.  There is a player whose role is the same as the roller in Craps.  But the actual betting is whether or not the player or the house will win the hand (whether the roller will pass or crap out).

Jake Norwood

Quote from: Mike HolmesBut that still doesn't allow for characters or player skill to affect the outcome other than preventing inordinate numbers of losses (a player can't play well enough to win regularly, but he can play well enough to lose only half the time).

Aren't these prerequisites for your designs?

Mike

The "skill" factor here is really knowing "when to say when." But I agree that it's not enough. That's why having a card up your sleeve would be important. If I could figure out what cards are best in order, then each character's sleeve-card could be determined by Rank in the Family or by Reputation.

Here's an alternate Rep mechanic I'm playing with.


Each character (or player?) has a generic pot of chips--his Bankroll. These are used to gamble for any actions, etc (narration and resolution works the same). Reputations still exist, but instead of Chips they're cards. You gain a reputation card by buying it with chips from your Bankroll, especially after actions or conflicts that would have earned you that reputation (each reputation can have, say, 2 or 3 cards tops). These cards function as Cards up your sleeve. You can play one istead of hitting. If you lose the hand, however, the card you used is gone. Likewise, you can sell cards back to the house for chips (when you're down on your luck, say).

This does a few things:
-It allows the players to take part in any action regardless of reputations.
-There's still the fear of losing one's reputation through unwise use.
-The players get an edge over the house when their reputations could help.

Negative reputations would be sleeve cards that the house gets for when you do hit (that might be too much, but we'll see), and can be acquired in return for more chips to gamble away. You can pay them off with interest, though (like a loan).

Hmm...I'm actually pretty excited about this design option. Comments?

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir

Here's an idea I had from the original thread, that might be applicable:

QuoteFree Hits
A heavy pistol might grant 1 free hit, a shotgun or submachine gun 2 or three (other situational advantages and the like similiarly rated). You can ditch 1 Hit card you don't like and draw a new one for each free hit. Less likely to go bust armed with a machine gun against a guy with a knife.

If the player's in character choices are awarded with Free Hits there is away for the player to influence the outcome while still retaining some randomness that a sleeve card might not have.


You'll have to give an example of the above...I'm not seeing what your idea is.

Mike Holmes

{Edited to not the cross post with everyone}

Like I said, Ron, one can play worse than optimal. But optimal in Blackjack is pretty easy. Yo can actually memorize the rules, and if that's too hard, you can buy little cards in the gift shops that tell you exactly the best way to play. They are accurate because it would be fraud to portray them as such if they were not.

So anyone who's losing more than the the house "take" rate is only doing so because they're ignoring simple probablility.

I found an article that clarifies the actually somewhat cloudy issue of Baccarat.

http://www.gambletribune.org/article.php?pid=186

I was refering to Chemin de Fer, apparently, a very similar game, and what is commonly played these days. In the Bond films apparently they play Chemin de Fer in some cases, but call it Baccarat (possibly in error). Or perhaps the rules were different at the time.

Baccarat has an interesting history. I'd like to see a mod of "Famiglia" that uses it instead for a spies game. Still, ironically about reputations.

Anyhow, now that we've thoroughly derailed the thread, I still haven't heard from Jake (whose name just happens to be really appropriate to the topic) whether he's going to allow some system to modify the odds.

Mike
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Jake Norwood

Mike-

Did you miss my above post?

Ralph-

Here's an example with the revised system I'm starting to favor.

[example]
Tony 2-tons is trying to wrestle a guy (Steve) to the ground so that Mikey can break his legs. Tony's got a reputation of Both "Tough guy" and "Tiny " (meaning Huge muscles). The Tough guy Rep has 2 cards in it--a 3 and a 7. The Tiny Rep has 3 cards in it, an Ace, a 4, and a 6. The other guy (Steve) has no reputations that could help him out.

Tony wagers 10 Chips from his Bankroll into the action. Steve Wagers 15. Initial hands come out. Tony has a net 13, Steve has a net 18, and the Dealer has 8 showing.

Tony activates both of these reputations by taking his 7 from Tough guy and his Ace (as a 1) from Tiny for a total +8, giving him 21 for the hand. Steve stands at 18, and the Dealer reveals net 19, and stands.

Now Tony has 20 Chips (he won against the dealer) and Steve has 0 (he lost to the dealer). If Tony had lost the hand then he would have lost the 2 cards he used as well. Because he won he can keep them.

[/example]

I think that whenever you buy a Rep. card you just draw randomly.

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir

Ok, I see that...but it seems a little easy to win with that many sleeve cards to deal with.

Mike Holmes

I saw your post after posting, Jake, hence the edit at the top to note that.

I agree with Ralph's assessment. But that gives me an idea. Play multiple hands (all of which you have to win) for harder tasks. That gives you a difficulty mod. Then the skill involved is marshalling your reputations through the entire thing. Each could only be used once.

A little bulky, perhaps, but it might work. I'm sure there's a solution to this somewhere just around the corner.

Mike
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Jake Norwood

Quote from: ValamirOk, I see that...but it seems a little easy to win with that many sleeve cards to deal with.

That's true, but there's a few ways around it. One is to only allow one Rep card per hand. Another is to require an activation cost for each one, or to require players to burn the card to use it at all (I don't like that one). I'm thinking that players would have about 5 Reps with just one card, 3 with 2, and 1 with 3 cards, or something like that. There could also be a limit to how often Rep cards get used every night, but I'm not so sure about this one. Another way to balance things out is with negative reputations that allow the GM to give you certain cards instead of hitting to screw you (although I prefer the idea that negative reps just raise the cost of things).

I like the idea that Rep cards could be earned through play, like SAs. That goes back to the dog/bisuit model that works so well. What I'm thinking is that when you've "been a good dog" you get to draw from the RepCard pile. If you like the card better than one you have you can discard the original and replace it with the new.

Dammit, Mike...the Baccarat Spy game sounds too cool...

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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