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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Deal Me In: Did I really say that?

17 May 2013

Dear Mark: I recently heard you on a radio show where you stated that your No. 1 gambling tip was "don't gamble." I took it as lighthearted advice, but really, is that your number No. 1 tip when it comes to gambling? Doug D.

From time to time, talk radio stations will call and ask if can I spare a few minutes and yap about gambling. Being a bit of a loose cannon, I can't predict what malarkey will flow from my mouth, but in this case, you heard me correctly. Well, sort of.

Yes, Doug, I was being a tad flippant. But the reasoning behind my "lighthearted" statement was that after almost 35 years in the casino business, I know that over 95 percent of casino patrons who frequent the Green Felt Jungle do not cope successfully against an industry whose sole professional purpose is to send them home empty-handed. Moreover, the common denominator among that same 95 percent of players is that they are all making bets they shouldn't be making, which dooms any chance of their success against the house. Therefore, what are my three favorite tips that will instantly move a player from the 95 percent up into the top 5 percent?

• Only make bets that have less than a 2 percent house edge.
• Only bet what you can afford to lose.
• … and a simple principle I offer to all those who gamble: The smarter you play, the luckier you'll be.

Of course, Doug, there are a whole lot more tips where those came from. So, if you are interested, I just released in audio format, Casino Tips That Will Save You Some Serious Ka-Ching.

Casino Tips That Will Save You Some Serious Ka-Ching is jam-packed with tips on money management; the three most popular casino games (slots, video poker and blackjack); the best and worst bets in the casino; getting your fair share of comps, and much more. The soundtrack has over 100 minutes of my favorite casino tips, all for less than one yank of a slot handle -- $0.99.

I suggest you, and other savvy readers, scrounge up four quarters easily found in the cushion of your Lazy Boy chair, and digitally download Casino Tips That Will Save You Some Serious Ka-Ching at cdbaby.com. Just search "Mark Pilarski" or by the title for the MP3 download. For those of you without an MP3 music device or Internet access, solicit the 13-year-old kid across the street who overcharges you $30 to cut your lawn, hand him a dollar so he can download a copy, and he'll be able to burn you a CD. Show him this column, and he will know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you feel you are a know-it-all gamester who doesn't need oodles of essential tips to avoid being wrung dry by the gambling industry, then at least revert to my original tip: "Don't gamble."

Dear Mark: What is the biggest advantage that the casino has over the player in the game of blackjack? Ed C.

The ONLY advantage the casino has over the player in blackjack is that the casino plays last. If you bust, and so does the dealer, the house already has your hard-earned money in the tray, with the casino all smiles.

To wipe that grin off their face, player skills are actually what determines your success at blackjack. The dealer isn't going to beat you; he or she merely gives you the opportunity to beat yourself.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Casinos don't like to use the word 'gambling' anymore. The euphemism of choice is 'gaming.' But you're not there to play games. You're there to gamble, with all the inherent risks. Don't be fooled by the casinos' little word games." – John Gollehon, A Gambler's Little Instruction Book (1994)
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.