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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Consider tipping a contribution to the Dame of Fortune

11 August 2000

Dear Mark,
Does tipping in any way affect your chances of winning in a casino? Also, do you know where tipping originated? Emilee D.

Technically, tipping does not influence a player's winning destiny, but gratuity is always in good form and helps keep up the morale at the table. Look at tipping, Emilee, as a donation to "Lady Luck." (Biased thoughts from someone — that would be me — who was a longtime compensation for service employee.)
The custom of tipping has its roots in England more than 200 years ago. Samuel Johnson is given credit for establishing the tradition that has evolved into the present-day tip. In the 18th-century London coffee houses, Johnson and his friends would hand their server a slip of paper with coins attached. On the paper was written, "To I nsure Promptness." The acronym of this phrase is apparently the derivative of the word "tip."

Dear Mark,
What was the largest bet ever made on the Superbowl? Donna D.

The largest legal wager ever made was an 8 to 1 money line bet (the outcome of a game without points) that San Francisco would beat San Diego in Superbowl XXIX. An unidentified gambler wagered $2.4 million at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The 49ers won big and the gamester collected $300,000.

Dear Mark,
After many years of playing video poker, I have noticed that I end up with an excessive amount of hands that make up a single pair. I realize that some pay (jacks or better), but most don't. Am I getting too many or my fair share of pairs? Ken Y.

A disproportionate amount? Not at all, Ken. The probability of a single pair materializing is 42.26%. Combinatorial mathematics tells us that a 52-card deck generates 2,598,960 unique five-card hands, of which 1,098,240 hands can make up any one pair.

Dear Mark,
What is a "buy" bet in craps, how does it differ from a "place" bet and what are the payoffs of each wager? Hank M.

In lieu of waiting for a number to show up as your point for a pass line bet, you may "place" or "buy" that number. Both work but are not paid the same way. By placing or buying a number, you are wagering that your number will roll before a 7.

Place bets on the 4 or 10 are paid 9-5 for a house edge of 6.67%, the 5 and 9 are paid at 7-5 (4% edge) and the 6 and 8 at 7-6 for a 1.52% house advantage. Buy bets work the same as place bets, except that you must pay a 5% commission to the house on all buy wagers. In return, the casino will pay you at true odds.

Because the house edge is less than 5% when placing the 5, 6, 8 and 9, it's not worth buying those numbers. True, buying the 4 or 10 can reduce the house edge to 4.76%, less than if you were to place them; still, the price is too egregious.

Buy, place, commissions, true odds, yes, Hank, it can be complicated, but here is my one bet recommendation: "Place" only the 6 or 8. Lose the rest from your betting arsenal.

Dear Mark,
What are the odds of hitting a hole-in-one in golf? Sam S.

According to the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), custodian of statistics on such matters, a male professional's or a top amateur player's chances are 3,708 to 1; a female pro's odds are 4,648 to 1. The average duffer's odds are 42,952 to 1.

My lone ace, when I teed off from the eighth hole and it landed in the cup on the 12th green, probably wouldn't count.

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.