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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Early worm in robin-swallowing spring training

13 April 2012

Dear Mark: I have been reading your column for years and very much enjoy your comments and insight. My question is this: Over the long haul, with many players and many cumulative hours played, casinos approach the statistical advantages you so often cite. Yet, on a shorter-term basis, when an individual player may only play for a few hours or so, those typical odds are skewed toward runs of either good or bad fortune. It seems to me that there are people who have more than their fair share of bad fortune (with more than expected losses) and vice versa, even though both types play the same way. In other words, do you believe some people just have innate bad luck, and some have good luck? To the house, it does not make much difference because it all evens out with their statistical percentage advantage, but to the individual player, especially those with constant bad luck, it is noticeable. I consider myself in the bad luck category while I watch others I know win time after time. Any thoughts on this? Mel Z.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said; "I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm." Huh, must be talking about you, Mel.

I will agree with you that always being the creepy-crawler sprawling down the casino’s gullet just isn’t fun. Although you did not mention your game(s) of choice, when you are not winning with the frequency predicted by barnyard math, you still must look at the randomness of gaming, your game/bet choices, and your relatively short gambling timeline.

All wagers are purposely designed to assure the casino a specific return. This percentage return is a long-term concept, and not based on cumulative hours of select gamblers. Your gaming timeline is perhaps limited to hundreds of yanks of the handle, hands of cards or rolls of dice, not millions, so any percentage anomaly can, and will, happen.

Over the years, I have gotten my fair share of mail from players whose scuttlebutt is to blame their continuous losing streak on bad luck. Very few will admit that it could be the canniness of the bets they make. Sure, Mel, you can look at luck as good or bad fortune beyond one's control that just happens, but the casino does offer a wide variety of wagers, with a huge difference in return among them, which leads me once again to state: The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be.

The upshot here is to realize that abysmal aberrations in winning and losing do happen, but losing aberrations do not last forever. Luck may well be seen as something, which happens beyond your control, but you can change it up some it by limiting your bets to wagers that have less than a two percent casino advantage. Correspondingly, Mel, I could be remiss if I didn't suggest looking at alternative forms of leisure entertainment. Possibly, gambling just ain’t your thing this year.

Dear Mark: Do winning bets ride in roulette? Say, for instance, I do not want to bet repeat numbers. Can I simply ask the dealer to give me my chips back? Tim S.

You sure can, Tim, but note that dealers typically leave your winning bet on the layout while your payoff on the inside wagers (numbers) are pushed to you. It is your responsibility to remove the winning wager if you do not want it to play on the following spin. In addition, outside wagers (odd/even, red/black, the columns, etc.) are left alongside your original winning wager. When any wager stays, it plays.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Most of us regard good luck as our right, and bad luck as a betrayal of that right." – William Feather
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.