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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Deal Me In: Finders Keepers?

12 December 2008

Dear Mark: Thanks for sharing your great insights about gambling in the casinos. Reading your material quells lots of myths about how slot machines react to gamblers.

My question is, are there general casino rules concerning money that a customer finds left on a slot machine, or if when the Player's Club card is inserted a voucher prints out with money on it? Can the customer keep the findings? Grady K.

According to them, and we all know who them is, 'taint yours.

"Sea gulling," i.e. purposively circling the casino looking for orphan credits on a slot machine, vouchers, change on the floor, chips under roulette wheels, or half eaten sandwiches in the coffee shop, is illegal.

That doesn't mean there are not opportunists making a full-time occupation of cruising the casino and scavenging the millions lost each year by gamblers who forget their stored credits (winnings).

Clearly, you're not a slot stalker looking for an easy score. But a tip to you and other slot-playing patrons: before you walk away from any slot machine, don't forget to press the cash-out button. Millions are lost each year by gamblers forgetting their stored credits.

Dear Mark: You mentioned that with automatic shuffling machines there isn't any basic strategy differences from a multi-deck game versus an automatic shuffler. What the same hold true for card counters? Charlie M.

Card counters, Charlie, actually gain a small mathematical edge over the house by betting more money when the composition of the deck(s) favors the player, less when the deck favors the dealer.

As I stated, automatic shufflers don't affect the odds of the game for basic strategy players, average players, or even you, Charlie, whatever your skill level is, but continuous shufflers make blackjack impracticable for card counters to ever know what the true composition of the deck is, so counters avoid them like the plague. Counters fare far better on hand-shuffled games.

Nevertheless, I must reiterate that continuous shufflers hurt all other players. If the dealer never has to stop to shuffle, giving you the opportunity to badger the dealer with questions like, where are you from (it's usually on their name tag), do you live here (no, I'm from Mars, I commute) you'll see an increased number of hands dealt per hour, yielding a richer opportunity for the built-in casino advantage to work against your billfold.

On average, Charlie, plan on losing more money per hour against continuous shufflers, followed by non-continuous automatic shufflers, followed by what you should be seeking out in the first place, hand-shuffled games.

Dear Mark: In Jacks-or-better video poker, is it ever appropriate to break up a high pair? Harry F.

You should always break up a pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces for a one-card draw to a four-card straight flush, four-card inside straight flush, or a royal flush.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:

"Poker is a mental game. Success does not depend on how high you can jump, how fast you can run or how much you can lift. Psychological maneuvering, assessing your opponents, recognizing situations, and creating deceptions are keys to success in poker." --Russel Fox & Scott T. Harker, Mastering No-Limit Hold'em

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.