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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Casinos see raising table limits as economic common sense

12 May 2000

Dear Mark,
Last weekend, on three separate occasions, the pit boss raised the table limits higher while I was playing. It went from $5 to $10, then all the way up to $25. Why do they do that? Rick D.

Given where your question came from, Joliot, my guess is that you were playing on the green felt flotillas on the river. From the casino's point of view, not mine, it makes fiscal sense to raise the limits when the boat is full of captured customers willing to surrender to higher table limits. They figure, Rick, you won't swim to shore.

Here in Nevada, many casinos have the policy of raising the table limits for new players only. Your $5 play would have been grandfathered in.

Dear Mark,
Recently I hit a jackpot for $1,200 on a 25¢ slot machine. The casino was not going to pay me until I provided them with my drivers license and social security number. I only complied because I wanted my winnings. Was there any way around this? Stan G.

Not really, Stan. Casinos are required to report to the IRS any slot jackpot of $1,200 or more. Because you played at the quarter level, your best bet would have been finding a machine that had a jackpot of $1,199 — one dollar below the amount at which casinos are forced to take identification. Some exist on the boats in the midwest.

Dear Mark,
What is the house edge in Caribbean Stud and what are my chances of being dealt a natural royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house and flush? Dan H.

The game Caribbean Stud carries a 5.6% house edge.

The odds of hitting a royal flush are approximately 650,000-1, 70,000-1 against a straight flush and 4,000-1 against a four of a kind, 700-1 against a full house and 500-1 against a flush.

Dear Mark,
Are casino owners ever afraid of system players? Mark J.

Gamblers believe in systems, the casinos believe in the mathematics of the games. Most, if not all, casino owners would be willing to give away the house — room, food and beverage — to any system player willing to wager big bucks.

Dear Mark,
In a previous column you mentioned that you didn't like Multi-Action blackjack, but you failed to give an explanation. How about one? Dawn G.

Why? Because Multi-Action multiplies the urge for most players to misplay their hands.

Far too many players employ a never-bust strategy because they are afraid of losing all three bets at once. They stand on a 12 regardless of the dealer up-card. They wish, hope and pray the dealer will bust on one or more hands. This can be a bankroll-killer. At a $5 minimum table, if you are not willing to risk $15 on a hit/stand decision, you should not be playing Multi-Action.

Secondly, your blackjack bankroll has to be higher. Five-dollar players have to make $15 worth of bets. A few triple losses and you're in the keno lounge begging for free drinks.

Finally, many times the house rules of Multi-Action are inferior to that of regular blackjack. An example of this would be not being able to double down after splits on a Multi-Action game.

You work hard for your money, Dawn. Why give the casino any extra edge?

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.