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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Deal Me In: I've been everywhere

15 November 2013

Dear Mark: I really enjoyed your column called “Vegas on the Cheap.” Yes, every place that I gamble does offer other forms of entertainment besides losing money. I am curious as to what are your favorite places to go where they offer gambling, but not for the sake of gambling itself? Alan R.

As Johnny Cash rat-tat-tats towns, cities and states like Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota on his hit, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” I too have been everywhere, at least when it comes to casino destinations, including on that dusty Winnemucca road. Yet, picking a select few wasn’t all that hard because luckily you allowed me to discount gambling. So here goes. Warning! My list is as subjective as it gets.

Reno/Tahoe: Mark Twain wrote; “We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” – Roughing It

I worked my entire gaming career, met my wife, got married and my son was born there, and because I worked only swing or graveyard shift, I was able to ski 2,255 days on those “snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still.” This destination truly exemplifies every day a picnic, every night a party.

Detroit: Devoutly loyal to my hometown, I include Detroit on my list. A favorite locale of mine, Ann Arbor, is a mere 50 minutes west of Detroit. And, being a connoisseur of Polish food, I can recommend my favorite Polish restaurant, the Polish Village Café, which sits within the heart of Hamtramck, a city within the city of Detroit. I’ve been known to drive hours just for their Golabki (stuffed cabbage) and Koperkiem Zupe (dill pickle soup). Smacznego!

Biloxi: I confess to being enamored of the sight, smell and sounds of the Mississippi Sound. Biloxi offers some of the finest sports fishing along the entire northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, has excellent eats, and offers as true a southern hospitality experience as you will find anywhere.

Dear Mark: I am new to poker, mostly by watching it on television. Sometimes the announcers will use terminology but not explain it. Here is one. What is a backdoor straight? Mary L.

A backdoor hand is making a hand other than the one you had intended. For example, you have a Queen/Ten of Spades in the hole, with a shared flop of an Ace and 4 of Spades, and a 7 of Clubs. The turn and river produced a King and Jack of Diamonds. You were sitting four spades for a flush, but instead, the King and a Jack at the turn and river made you a "backdoor" straight instead.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: From all my reading of the history of gambling from the beginning of civilization to the present, I must say that the present-day Vegas gambling is the most regulated and most honest that has ever existed. – Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas (1976)
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.