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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Long, long odds for multiple royals

16 August 2013

Dear Mark: Last night, 8/9/13, I was playing the quarter progressive Double Double-Bonus Poker at Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa here in Las Vegas. I held three cards and hit the royal for over $2k. On the very next hand, I was dealt two royal cards. I hit the deal button and hit another royal for another $2k (plus one cent). I had never seen or heard of anyone getting consecutive royals before but am glad it happened to me! I just thought you should know, plus I like to brag. James M.

Dear Mark: My wife hit three royals at one casino over a few hours. This occurred in Las Vegas last Friday and is photo documented. The last was a progressive worth $1,018. I assume this is rare. Any comment? Mark H.

Depending on the specific game, strategy and pay table, a royal flush will occur approximately once every 40,000 hands. Those multiple royals that you both experienced have you breathing rarified air, so hats off to your good fortunes.

Once hitting your first royal flush, James, the odds of a repeat on the following hand remain the same, one in 40,000. However, the odds of hitting two consecutive royals are 40,000 multiplied by 40,000, or one in 1.6 billion. A Mega Millions $1 lottery ticket is over nine times easier to hit.

While working slots in the early 80s, I once paid off a consecutive royal flush. The kicker was that the player had to invest just five, and not 10 quarters. The reason why was that once we paid off his jackpot, it was standard procedure for the casino, in this case Yours Truly, to insert five of our own quarters to clear the machine and let the winning player play through on our dime (quarters).

As for your wife's triple royal night, Mark, how about this extraordinary event from 20 years ago. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 1993, Stevey Tyler hit three $4,000 royal flushes on separate video poker machines at Scolari's Food and Drug on Lakeside Court on Sunday afternoon. The Nevada Gaming Control Board investigators closed the machines for an inspection but found no evidence of tampering. Although not mentioned in the RGJ article, the scuttlebutt, as I remember it, was that they were consecutive.

The improbable odds of hitting three consecutive royal flushes would be 40,000 x 40,000 x 40,000, which comes to one in 64 trillion. This makes hitting the Powerball at one in 175,223,510 easy pickings.

Dear Mark: I had always heard that when playing blackjack you always split Aces. Does that also include when the dealer has an Ace? Are there any exceptions to this rule? Dave A.

Correct basic strategy dictates that when dealt a pair of Aces, always split them, even when the dealer shows an Ace. There is one lone exception. If you are playing European-style blackjack where the dealer does not give himself a hole card, you would just hit against a dealer Ace. Otherwise, Dave, split against everything else.

By the way, Dave, readers of this column are always on the lookout for casinos that offer the best blackjack rules. So, while we're on the subject of splitting Aces, always look for a casino that has the favorable rule of allowing you to re-split them.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "There are no clocks in the palace of pleasure." -- Florentine Proverb
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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.