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Best of Mark Pilarski
Deal Me In: Hearing vs. listening6 June 2008
Dear Mark: Several weeks ago I wrote to you to inquire about blackjack's Royal Match bet and got your definitive answer that I've summarized here in two words: bad bet. Like most people who ask for advice, I didn't act on your info figuring I'd just make the bet on the deal to limit the loss. HA!
Yesterday, I sat at a blackjack table at a local casino (Western Village for you as a former Reno-ite). In those four hours I never received the first two dealt cards in suit while the bet was out. Royal Match: I'm outta there.
It's OK to hold me up to public ridicule if you want to use this to reinforce your point to your readers. But please: Just don't use my name — I'm already suffering enough. Anonymous
Fortunate that you're rich enough. What I said was: "The Royal Match wager, a side bet in blackjack that is based on the first two cards dealt to the player, is a bad deal, being over this columnist's mandated 2% tops casino advantage. By ignoring the Royal Match offering, you keep more of your hard-earned money in your wallet for a longer time."
What you read was only your favorite words; like: Blah, blah, blah ROYAL MATCH blah, blah, blah, blah, blah SIDE BET, blah, blah, DEAL, blah, blah, blah, blah, ADVANTAGE.
By the way, Willoughby, oops, I wasn't supposed to mention your name, but next time keep a little something extra for the Western Village's Steakhouse, as it's one of my Top 10 picks as a best-kept secret in the Reno/Tahoe/Sparks area.
Dear Mark: I am a novice video poker player, so here's my question. Playing 5-card draw with jacks or better, I draw a pair of 5s, a king, a 7 and a 2. Do I just keep the pair of fives, or do I keep the fives and the king? Jerry S.
A good decision on a live poker game can be a bad one at Jacks or Better video poker. For instance, a kicker, a high card with a pair, can be at times advantageous to hold at your kitchen table, but should always be discarded on a video poker machine. Holding a kicker, to any pair, Jerry, reduces your return by 5%.
I did write in a column years ago that there was one scenario where you did want to hold a kicker. There used to be a time when the machine didn't lock up as a winner when four cards had the same face value. For instance, you initially draw a 6-6-6-6-Jack. My advice back then was to hold all five cards so that you wouldn't accidentally discard one of your four-of-a-kinds. Today, most machines won't allow you the opportunity to do something so… dummy me.
Dear Mark: What are your thoughts on this roulette system? I wait for odd or even to come up three consecutive times and then bet the opposite on the fourth spin figuring it's due. Jenny T.
A roulette wheel has the same recall abilities as a teenager you forever yell at to turn off the lights when leaving a room: none whatsoever.
Past results, Jenny, have no effect on a future outcome. Regardless of what happened on recent spins, on the next spin there is a 47.37% chance the number will be odd, a 47.37% that it will be even, and 5.26% (the house edge) that it will be neither (green 0 or 00).
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "To be a professional gambler, to win year in and year out, you have to be part mathematician, part banker, part actor, part martial artist... You have to be willing to spend your life in casinos." Deke Castleman, Whale Hunt in the Desert
Best of Mark Pilarski