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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Just whose ace is it anyway?

5 June 2009

Dear Mark: Recently at a Reno blackjack table, I placed a bet in the betting circle and the dealer missed me and didn't give me a card. The card, an ace, was given to the next player and I said, "you missed me." The dealer said "you'll have to wait till the next hand, I'm not giving you HIS ace," even though she hadn't even given herself a card yet. Shouldn't she have given me "MY" ace? Should I have asked for the pit boss? What is the correct procedure in a situation like this.? P.S. Yes, I lost the hand. Mary P.

Your dealer's handicraft is in pitching cards, not necessarily in settling squabbles. In the casinos I've worked in, both in pitching cards and in management, dealers would have not been allowed to make any judicial moves without pit approval. Doing that, when it affects the outcome of a hand, can turn into quite the rhubarb, and the last thing the typical casino wants is a dealer arbitrarily playing circuit court.

And yet, despite the dealer's probable mistake, the fair call most likely in your case would have been you NOT getting that ace, even if you had called the pit boss over and explained your situation.

Because of the possibility of collusion between players affecting the outcome of a hand, the options most likely would have been allowing you to call your hand dead, or giving you the opportunity to take the next available card, but not backing up the cards.

That's not to say that different pit bosses, sometimes even in the same pit, don't render contrary decisions. Calling a particular play differently ultimately confuses casino clientele. You, and yes, even the dealer, have a very legitimate gripe against management on inconsistent calls. That's why some casinos have phonebook-sized dealer manuals with rules and regulations covering every possible scenario, while in others, a floor supervisor will just "wing it" and arbitrate on the fly any quibbles the players may have.

Calling over a gambling referee may not always work in your favor, Mary, but it doesn't hurt to try. You might just get that ace in casino A, but not necessarily in casino B, C or D.

Dear Mark - I've heard that Bally's in Atlantic City is offering 10 times odds on the back of your craps bets. Have you heard of such a thing? Is that the best bet in AC right now? What is the house edge on that bet? Adam L.

Taking odds is distinct from all other casino wagers in that free odds carry NO house edge. All bets are paid off at true odds.

For example, let's say that you bet $5 on the pass line and the point is 10. On a 10x odds table, where you are allowed to make an odds bet ten times the size of your original pass bet, you are allowed to back your pass line bet with $50 in free odds. If the 10 hits, you're paid even money on your Pass line bet and true odds of two to one on your $50 odds wager.

By making use of 10x odds, Adam, the math of craps says the house edge on your pass line bet drops to 0.2%, making it probably one of the best bets in Atlantic City, Detroit, Reno, Biloxi, or just about anywhere, for that matter.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I gotta win money six times before it's mine. The customer is gonna steal from me. The employees are gonna steal from me. So if I keep grinding it through six times, it finally belongs to me." —Pappy Smith, founder of Harold's Club in Reno

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.