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Big hand bluffing

3 November 2006

Dear Mark: I happen to be a very tight player when it comes to playing Texas Hold'em. When I get a real decent starting hand like kings or aces, I get a little overly excited and bet heavily, which throws bluffing right out the window. Any ideas on how I can throw off fellow players? Chip B.

Hey, Chip, plenty of players, when getting a two-card starting hand of kings or pocket rockets, froth at the mouth like a diseased coyote. Most players, like yourself, tend to raise, then re-raise with either of these hands. But once you are identified as a very tight player, folding most of the hands you're dealt, and then all of a sudden you pull a Pickett's Charge, obviously you ain't bluffing nobody.

I would recommend you occasionally "slow play" your big hand. If you have a pair of kings or aces, just call before the flop. Your fellow players by now are used to you betting big on big hands, but by your slow playing, opponents will now figure you for a weak hand, and you'll end up winning a bigger pot because of it.

Dear Mark: When playing slots, does it make any difference which increments of bills that I put into the machine? For instance, if I put a $10 bill in instead of a $100 bill, does that affect my chances of winning? Rachel H.

A slot machine does not contradistinguish your hard-earned cash as it gobbles it up, no matter what denomination, nor will it increase or decrease your odds of winning, except in the rare case of slot indigestion.

Dear Mark: What would happen if two players both made the progressive side bet in Caribbean Stud, and both get a royal flush? Is the pot split down the middle? I asked a dealer this question and he said he's never seen it happen , nor was he sure exactly how the jackpot would be split. The dealer then called over the pit boss and she said it's never happened in their casino nor has she ever heard of two royals in one hand. She too wasn't quite sure on how the progressive would be split, but she didn't think it would be down the middle. What are your thoughts on how the pot would be split? Chuck D.

The reason, Chuck, that both the dealer and pit boss have never eye-witnessed two royals in one hand is because the odds of that happening are over 20 billion to one. To be exact, it's one in 20,103,110,301. Very few have ever played that many hands, and anyway, after the 10 billionth, one's memory begins to fade.

I'm frowning deeply here, and if wrong I'm sure I'll hear about it, but I believe the player on the right gets the progressive jackpot and the other player wins a measly $10,000. Reason being, with Caribbean Stud, players get paid right to left, so the player on the right gets paid first, which would be the progressive jackpot, then the meter is reset to $10,000, and then the gone berserko second player would then get paid.

Settling this squabble could get ugly, but luckily, and I'm guessing here again, it'll never happen in our lifetimes.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Industry executives and analysts often mistakenly talk about strategy as if it were some kind of chess match. But in chess, you have just two opponents, each with identical resources, and with luck playing a minimal role. The real world is much more like a poker game, with multiple players trying to make the best of whatever hand fortune has dealt them. In our industry, Bill Gates owns the poker table until someone proves otherwise." -- David Moschel

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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.