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Deal Me In: Course of action can differ between casinos

8 January 2010

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: If you place a bet at a table game that is more than the permitted maximum, and neither you or the dealer notice, should they either A) pay you at the correct odds on the full (higher) amount, B) pay you on the permitted maximum and refund the rest, or C) pay you nothing and just refund your bet in full? Alaistair K.

Most often, a table maximum overage occurs when a bet consists of varying colors of chips. Called a barber pole, these bets after a winning hand are to be broken down and paid off color for color. Generally before the bet is made, a dealer will make sure the smallest value chip is on the top, to discourage "capping" of the bet, and also to make sure the wager isn't over the table maximum. However, even if it were an overlooked $500 chip placed as a bet on a $200 maximum game, dealers would not be allowed to make the judicial move of paying it without pit boss approval.

So, Alaistair, now that a dealer has called over a gambling referee, you might get that winning bet paid in full in casino A, but not necessarily in casino B or C. Furthermore, that's also not to say that different pit bosses, within casino A, and sometimes within the same pit, don't render conflicting decisions.

That's why some casinos have phonebook-sized manuals with rules and regulations covering every possible scenario, while in others, a floor supervisor will just "wing it" and arbitrate on the fly any quibbles the players may have.

Having played pit bull (boss) in three different casinos, I can only tell you that one where I worked would allow A, pay the full amount, but only once with a word of warning, and the other two would have paid you the table maximum and refunded the excess. Yet I'm sure, Alaistair, there are also Sorry Charlie casinos that would pay you zilch, the C solution, and just reimburse your initial wager.

Dear Mark: Maybe the answer is so simple I don't realize it, but why do they burn cards in card games? Steven L.

Any time a card is discarded from the top of the deck it's called a burn card. It is done as a security measure to reduce the chances of players getting advance information about future cards. In blackjack, the top card(s) are discarded after the shuffle, whereas in a game like Texas Hold'em, cards from the top of the deck are discarded at certain pre-determined points in the dealing process, like before the flop, the turn, and the river.

Dear Mark: I hit my very first royal flush last week, a naturally dealt hand in diamonds. But what your readers might appreciate is that winning is fleeting because I gave all $1,000 back in less than four hours. Tommy D.

When you score a week's income on one lucky bet, you don't want to stay at the fair too long. Looks like you hung around and ate two too many corn dogs.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Speed can change a minor house edge into a major loss, just like speed can change a minor fender-bender into a major full-scale car crash."--Frank Scoblete, 109 Ways To Beat The Casinos

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.