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Old 02-02-2015, 08:32 AM   #11
vicky_molokh's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyïv, Ukraine
Default Re: Poker, Black Jack, Baccarat, etc.

Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
If it's a game where skill matters very much, a casino won't offer it for exactly that reason. You can't play poker (or for that matter bridge or go or chess or baseball) against the house. They may act as a bookie for other players, but it won't be the house employees playing, nor will any of the casino's money be riding on the outcome.

So yeah, there are no skills to be learned that will enable you to lose less against the house. The minimal loss strategy is usually too simple to be worth a skill point - it has to be since the dealer is playing it and it has to be one he can learn to execute flawlessly without too much training. You don't break even with it either because the house wins the ties or because there is a commission to play.
This is probably the reason why Gambling is a single skill covering many games and offering a bonus for Familiarity.
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:33 AM   #12
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Poker, Black Jack, Baccarat, etc.

Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
On a success, you lose money at a rate corresponding to the house edge. On a failure, you lose money faster than that.
More complicated than that, because it is possible to win money in the short term. The house edge in most games is narrow, and so it's not all that unlikely to have an imbalance of results (not even necessarily a run) against the house. Not that there's a skill component here, but if you're using a single die roll to simulate the realistic outcome of playing casino games, if the table only has results for "lose a little" and "lose a lot", it's pretty inaccurate.

As the number of games increases, it becomes less and less likely to vary far from the expected value. This is probably a case where a dice pool mechanic would work better than 3d6-N, because you do want the roll results to get peakier and peakier.

Gambling skill might better be viewed as modifying the house edge than changing the probability of the results in a particular game. That is, you can learn the rules for optimal baccarat play easily, learn which bets are better or worse on a craps table with somewhat more work, get "good" at blackjack with a little effort, get "really good" at blackjack only with even more work, and then progress to the card-counting stage. None of that changes the way the dice or cards fall, but it does change your likelihood of walking away with a profit over a series of trials.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:01 AM   #13
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: Poker, Black Jack, Baccarat, etc.

We also have to consider that most gambling in a GURPS game might not be in a casino setting, but rather card / dice games in a saloon, betting on cock fights out back or the horse races at the annual trade fair, etc.

In casino games the house gets its cut, but even games like Texas Hold'em involve inter-player skill differences, not just random chance.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:37 AM   #14
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Montréal, Québec
Default Re: Poker, Black Jack, Baccarat, etc.

The "lose a little vs lose a lot" thing is absolutely realistic in the long term, but on a small number of plays you could actually win a lot of money (but you won't, so don't).

In a realistic setting, gambling probably makes the most sense used almost as an Expert Skill, because the really isn't much for it to actually do - it focuses on bet management, but gives you just enough familiarity with traditional gambling games to be functional at it.

The Gambling skill will let you determine the best possible betting strategy at a particular moment. Against the house without cheating, it really can't do much except minimize losses, but if you are cheating it will help you get the most out of it (and help dissimulate your cheating by making you seem to play reasonably - someone who succeeds at Sleight of Hand but fails at gambling will either still lose money, or raise suspicion, or both).

When playing a game that is not basically entirely luck-based, it gets more complicated. Realistically, you will use both Games(Poker) and Gambling in this case: the player with high Games(Poker)-18 and Gambling-12 playing the opposite build will win more hands but end up with less money because the better gambler managed his bets better, losing small amounts and winning big once or twice, snowballing into a pile of cash.

If playing Chess, or Pool, or similarly skill-based games, Gambling will still help you figure out how much to bet (by getting a feel whether you're being conned by a master), but it really comes down to Games skill unless you're trying dirty tricks. Whereas Poker hands are short, there will seldom be enough Chess games for Gambling skill to snowball here.

Anything on your character sheet that helps you win against the house without cheating is 100% cinematic.
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