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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: A push is a push, except for ...

26 April 2013

Dear Mark: Please settle a dispute between my wife and me. She believes a pair of jacks is a win at video poker. I believe it to be a push. Who is right? Kent H.

The unpopularity of ties, in both gambling (blackjack) and sports, is echoed in the adage, "A tie is like kissing your sister." The earliest known use of that phrase is linked to Navy football coach Eddie Erdelatz after a scoreless tie against Duke in 1953.

The expression is also used to describe something that is dull, boring, or anything along those lines that someone would not want to repeat doing. Obviously, your wife, Kent, finds consolation with the antonym of boring, exciting, and she may have a point.

The creators of video poker have accomplished something that no other game developer has ever been able to duplicate: By returning your original wager, they make you spontaneously feel like a winner. My take, Kent, is that the return of your primary wager is a push, nothing more, with but one exception.

If you belong to a casino players' club, a push has some value in video poker. By being a card-carrying member, you get credit for play on your card for that pair of jacks. Since a tie returns your original wager, when you hit the deal button again, you then get more credit on your player's card.

Dear Mark: How do you go about getting those free coupons I see occasionally played on table games? Lucinda S.

What those coupons are, Lucinda, is free money.

Many casinos offer free fun books that contain coupons for gambling, dining, discounts and other gift offers. What you are describing are match play coupons, or lucky bucks that are often found in those fun books. They give you additional money to play with when you win a bet at the table games. For example, if you have a $10 dollar match play coupon, you can bet 10 dollars with the coupon, and if you win, you will be paid $20.

Fun books can be had by going up to the players' club welcome booth, casino cage, or by just asking for one from a casino host. When a player uses a match play coupon with a real "even money" bet, the match play will be converted to a like amount in cash if the player wins.

For example, if the player has a $10 match play coupon and pairs it with a $10 line bet in craps, if the player wins, his line bet wins $10, and his match play coupon will be converted to 10 real dollars. Win or lose, the match play coupon is then taken out of play.

My recommendation, Lucinda, is to use a match play coupon on wagers that have less than a two percent house edge. A hand of blackjack or a bank or player hand in baccarat, or in craps, a pass line bet or placing the six or eight would be the smart move here.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “You know what luck is? Luck is believing you're lucky ... to hold front position in this rat-race you've got to believe you're lucky." — Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire
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.