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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Aquire skills at home before you expose your hard-earned money

24 November 2000

Dear Mark: Before going to the casino I run practice hands on the kitchen table. The problem with this method is that play in a casino on both video poker machines and blackjack is much faster. Any suggestions? Tammy D.

The best way to acquire gaming skills without the expense of a live game is with a computer. In many ways a computer can be far superior to a human instructor for both training and drilling. The benefit of computer training is the ability to test card- counting strategies along with money-management progressive win formulas at no financial risk, even with simulated high-speed play. Whether at high speeds or a live game pace, computers accumulate data for later review. This will enable you to spot costly trends that you might be making on a video poker machine or blackjack table. Information like this would take you years to accumulate dealing hand after hand on your kitchen table. And again, the key here is that any knowledge obtained without a casino outlay will make you more money down the road.
Many of the better gaming software programs are either free or shareware, making it very inexpensive, easy to use, and yes, definitely fun. These software programs can be downloaded from any of the major online services on the internet.
If you don't have a computer, you can still create a Las Vegas experience with a handheld video game. I've seen these small hand-held computer games at WalMart as inexpensively as $5. I prefer the games made by a company called Radica. The screen is easy to read and the batteries last, well, I've never changed them yet. Along with a basic strategy card, you'll sharpen your playing skills and be an expert in no time.

Dear Mark: I was wondering if you knew the name of the guy who came to Vegas with a couple hundred bucks and kept winning millions. He said, "I'm going to win the casino." I believe this happened at Binion's and as the story goes he ended up broke. Do you know where I can get more info? Brian F.

Which loser are you talking about? There are hundreds of riches-to-rags stories that litter Interstate 15 as you're leaving Las Vegas. Sure, a few players arrive in a Gremlin and drive home in a $250,000 vehicle, but it's generally a Greyhound bus. Your typical mere mortal ends up going to the casino gift shop and buys a tacky t-shirt that says, "I'm Here Visiting My Money In Las Vegas."
The only way a player can guarantee making a small fortune in Las Vegas is to arrive with a large one.

Dear Mark: Why are the table felts blue in Morocco? Darren S.

Because green is the sacred color of Islam; also known as the "Color of the Prophet."

Dear Mark: Years ago I was told by an instructor at William and Mary that the university was partially funded by the lottery. Was he pulling my leg? Shelly D.

No he wasn't, Shelly. William and Mary as well as Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown and Columbia were funded by voluntary taxation (lottery).

Dear Mark: How can the casino afford to give away a 99¢ breakfast? Tom C.

Because they wish, hope and pray that you'll spend $200.99 before you leave.

Dear Mark: I'm curious, when you worked in a casino what was the most often-asked question players asked you then? Gail S.

Where's the bathroom?

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.