We popped by The Orleans, a casino-hotel about five minutes west of The Strip on Tropicana, and saw two side bets we hadn’t played before, and sort of wish it had stayed that way.
Specialty bets on table games have notoriously high house edges, and these two beauties followed suit.
First, up a blackjack side bet called “Let’s Play.” This bet has a $1 minimum, and pays based upon the player’s cards (and in one case, the combined cards of the player and dealer).
If your two cards are the same suit, you’re paid 2-to-1, you’re paid 4-to-1 for a straight flush, 15-to-1 for a suited queen-jack, 20-to-1 for ace-king suited and 250-to-1 for ace, king, queen and jack suited (this one includes your cards and the dealer’s).
Even for those of us math-challenged, it only takes a moment to realize those payouts are pretty awful. Overall, the house edge for this game is a killer 11.01%.
See all the numbers for this game at one of our favorite number-crunching sites, Wizard of Odds.
Our next side bet was truly a doozy. Yes, there are still doozies, although these days, they’re called WTFs.
Moving over to craps, The Orleans has a side bet called the Replay Bet. It’s akin to the popular Fire Bet, but this is the only casino where we’ve see the Replay Bet.
Here, you’re betting you’ll roll the same number three times before you seven out. Given that seven is the most commonly-rolled number on the dice, you’re definitely bucking the odds to win this bet, and it shows.
The Replay Bet has a gargantuan house edge of 24.79%. For laypersons, we can best describe that house edge as “Run! Run for your life!”
All the numbers for the Replay Bet can be found here. Seriously, this side bet competes with keno (house edges of up to 35%) as the worst bet in a casino.
So, as with most bets in a casino, caution is paramount. It’s fairly safe to assume side and specialty bets aren’t great for players, so they should be avoided, or at least bet sparingly.
Sometimes, your instincts, or copious amounts of liquor, tell you different, and you have to go for it. Gambling, after all, is meant to be fun, not a retirement plan.