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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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A Nevada perspective from a chaise lounge

7 January 2000

Dear Mark,
I have always enjoyed reading the history of the West and the free-spirited nature of its participants. Is there any one quote that best describes a Nevadan's attitude toward life? Gary H.

Former Nevada governor Grant Sawyer perhaps explained it best while stretched poolside in a lounge chair at the Flamingo. He said, "Our attitude toward life, save under the most urgent provocation, is relaxed, tolerant and mindful that if others are allowed to go on their way unmolested, a man stands a chance of getting through by himself with a minimum of irritation."

Dear Mark,
Realizing that keno is a sucker bet, I avoid donating money to the casino. Because the game is relatively new here in New Jersey, few players know how bad the odds are. I'm curious, how long has keno been played in Nevada? Carl H.

You're right, Carl. June 15, 1994, was the date the New Jersey Casino Control Commission gave legal permission to Atlantic City casino operators to pillage and loot their patrons wallets via keno.
Out here in Nevada, keno appeared in 1936 when Francis Lyden introduced the game at the Palace Club in Reno. With an initial limit of $4,000, it was called "Race Horse Keno" with names of horses assigned to each of the 80 numbers. As each game was called the numbers were announced as "jockey number 55 on the Polish Prince."

In 1951, the "Race Horse" version was dropped and the game became known simply as keno.

Dear Mark,
Taking your advice, I now exclusively play mini-baccarat because of its low house edge. Per your past column, I do avoid the tie wager and strictly bet back and forth between the bank and player hand. I'm about to make a trip to Las Vegas and was told that somewhere downtown one casino offers better odds if you bet the bank hand. Where is it? Maggie C.

Betting the bank hand at Binion's Horseshoe is where you get your decisive break. By lowering the commission to four percent on winning bank hands (compared to the standard five percent), the house edge drops to .6%, making it one of the better bets in Nevada.

Dear Mark,
What are the odds of hitting 15 straight football bets found on most parlay cards? Peter C.

Plan on playing about 33,000 parlay cards, Peter. That is the odds of hitting 15 successive winning football wagers.

Dear Mark,
I am making my first trip to Las Vegas the early part of next year, not to gamble, but for a convention. Where do you recommend I book reservations? Robin T.

I'm asked all the time where I like to stay when visiting Las Vegas. Tough call, but if forced to pick one place, it would be the Rio Suite Hotel. And I'm not the only one who feels this way. Zagat Hotel and Restaurant Survey has given the Rio numerous awards like best rooms, best dining, best service and best overall in Las Vegas. The Rio has also earned the ranking of "the best" in 10 categories in the Las Vegas Review-Journal most recent "Best of Las Vegas Survey."

Dear Mark,
On the weekends when the table limits get prohibitively high for my bankroll, I retreat to video blackjack. There used to be a few video blackjack machines on the riverboats but now they're all gone. What's the low limit player to do? Jason M.

Even though live blackjack is the most popular table game in the casino, video blackjack slots were some of the worst performing machines on the riverboats.

Most have been replaced by other machines that feed the casino coffers more. They still exist if you find a Bally's Game Maker multi-game machine. On the Game Maker, of all the assorted video games, blackjack tends to get the most play. Go figure.

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.