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Best of Mark Pilarski

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A foul hand is a losing hand every time

26 July 2004

Dear Mark,
I was involved in an interesting situation recently at a casino. Playing pai gow poker, I set my hands appropriately, or so I thought. In any case, even though I possibly set my hands wrong, I would have beaten the bankers hands either way, except that, I was denied payment. The dealer said I set my hand wrong and took my money. I complained to the floor supervisor, but he confirmed I should NOT be paid. So, my question is, even if I set my hand incorrectly, but both ways would have beaten the house, was I treated unfairly? Jim D.

To win at pai gow poker, you have to beat both of the banker's hands with both of your hands. Fair enough, Jim, you did that. Still, the pit boss was correct in NOT paying you, as I believe by your letter that you fouled your hand.

In pai gow poker, players set seven cards into two separate hands of two and five cards. A pai gow poker hand is foul when hands have the wrong number of cards, or, the two card low hand has a higher poker value than the five-card high hand.

Though your letter did not illustrate the exact hands dealt, an example would be the banker having a pair of 5's for his two-card hand and a pair of 7's for his five-card hand. You possibly could have had a pair of jacks and queens, but inadvertently set the queens in your two-card hand instead of the jacks. True, both of your pairs would have beaten both of the dealer's, but you fouled your hand by putting the stronger of the two pairs up front. If the two-card hand turns out to be higher in value, the hand is foul and is an automatic loser.

Dear Mark,
You state that slot machines operate randomly, but do video keno machines also operate using a random chip? Thomas D
.

All of today's video machines, like video poker, video blackjack, and video keno, operate using the same microprocessor technology and randomized sequencing as slot machines.

Dear Mark,
I have a running disagreement with my husband regarding video poker and drawing to an inside straight. I believe you should always draw to one. He (John) on the other hand believes you should never draw to an inside straight. Since we play side-by-side often, I figure you could put this difference of opinion to finally to rest. Kaye R.

An example of an inside straight would be a 4-5-6-8, and you are holding those four cards and hoping to draw a seven. Therefore, is holding those four cards and rooting for the seven to appear a smart move? Not really, Kaye, as most experts recommend never drawing to an inside straight unless it is an ace-high straight. One example of this would be 10-Q-K-A, and you try to draw a jack to complete the straight.

Hopefully, Kaye, this tip will improve your conjugal play.

Gambling quote of the week: "When a man gets a streak of luck… he don't get tired. The luck gives in first. Luck is a mighty queer thing. All you know about it for certain is that it's bound to change. And it's finding out when it's going to change that makes you." Bret Harte, The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1870)

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.