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A hand by any other name . . .

9 May 2005

Dear Mark,
When making the Under/Over 13 bet in blackjack, which bet is better, the Under or the Over 13? Thomas D.

The Under/Over 13 is a side bet that pays even money if the player correctly guesses that the sum of the first two cards dealt to him or her will be under or over 13. Aces count as 1.

As for making this side bet, I recommend neither, Thomas, as both have a considerable casino advantage. As for which is better, it would be the Under 13 bet, as its house edge, depending on the number of decks in play, is in the 6% range compared to a whopping 10% plus for the over 13 wager.

Dear Mark,
For the past 22 years I have been carrying the ace of spades in my wallet. I feel it has brought me good fortune over the years. Last week you described an ace as a rocket. On the World Poker Tour, you often hear the announcers describe the ace/king as "Big Slick." I am curious as to what other slang names there are for the ace, and ace plus an additional card combination. Gerald C.

Yup, a rocket is an ace. Other popular slang monikers for the rocket are: spike, eye, seed, bull, and tee pee. Put an (s) next to any of the above to pair them up (e.g. rockets). Also, you often hear the term bullet for an ace, a possible allusion to Hickok’s Dead Man’s Hand: pairs of aces and eights. The obvious conclusion is that Wild Bill drew a third bullet in the back, filling the full house, but in death at a very high price. Aces paired are often described as pocket rockets, snake eyes, sticks, needles and the names of well-known individuals like Alan Alda and Albert Anastasia.

As for ace/card pairings, here are some of the more popular nameplates:

Ace/king - Big Slick (if of the same suit, Big Slick in a Suit)
Ace/king - Walking Back to Houston (play this hand too strong, and
you’ll often be left with no getaway money)
Ace/queen - Big Chick (emulating Big Slick)
Ace/queen - Anthony & Cleopatra
Ace/jack - Ajax
Ace/jack - Jack Ass (jack ace)
Ace/jack - Black Jack (if both aces are black)
Ace/ten - Bookends (both ends of a top straight)
Ace/nine - Rounder’s Hand (from the movie)
Ace/eight - Dead Man's Hand (When he was shot in the back by Jack
McCall, Wild Bill Hickok was holding aces and eights)
Ace/seven - Red Baron (after Sven, the Flying Ace)
Ace/six - Mile High (the Flying Ace and sex)
Ace/five- High Five (Ace and the "high five")
Ace/four - Sharp Tops (both cards have sharp tops)
Ace/three- Baskin Robbins (31 Flavors)
Ace/two- Acey-Deucey
Ace/two- Hunting Season (A bullet and a duck)

Hope you weren’t counting, Gerald, as there is plenty more that poker rooms and kitchen tables yield that I haven’t mentioned. So, if any of you readers have a favorite or a bright invention you would like to contribute, please e-mail me at pilarski@markpilarski.com.

Dear Mark,
I know that slots are computers and they use a random number generator for the outcome. However, is it true that casinos purchase winning Megabucks chips? In other words, do casinos bid for the winning chip for the next Megabucks session? Does IGT know in advance which casino will get the next "hit"? Gayle H.

The long answer to your question, Gayle, has been covered often in this column. So, I’ll give you the short version: NO, and NO!

Gambling quote of the week: "Your mother has this crazy idea that gambling is wrong. Even though they say it's OK in the Bible." —Homer Simpson

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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.