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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Loose slots and loads of goodies

21 March 2014

Dear Mark: Do you have a favorite place to play quarter slots in Las Vegas? What casino has the best returns? I am going there next month. Meri W.

Unfortunately, Meri, when it comes to slot machines, there is no definitive return for slot paybacks at any one particular casino like those for video poker just by using one's noggin and analyzing a paytable. Luckily, the grind joints in downtown Las Vegas are competitive and liberal with their returns.

In Las Vegas, The Strip theoretically returns 91.37 percent on 25¢ slot machines, whereas the Downtown casino slots return 94.77 percent. As you can see, Meri, the quarter slot machines downtown pay out slightly more than those located on the Las Vegas Strip. Not only are those returns among the best in the Las Vegas area, they are among the best payback percentages anywhere in the US.

Playing quarters, Meri, puts you in the category of the low roller. So, what you want to do is not only play downtown, but choose a casino with liberal player benefits.

So, what is my favorite? I believe the best cluck-for-the-buck can be had at the El Cortez. The El Cortez is the longest continuously-running hotel and casino in Vegas, widely considered by locals as a decent low-end comp house, has a slew of the Las Vegas Review BEST OF LAS VEGAS AWARDS, and yes, some of the loosest slots in town.

Being the “old schooler” that I am, I find El Cortez to be one of the few places in Vegas where patrons can still enjoy classic coin-operated machines. There is nothing better than the sounds of winning as quarters hit the drop bowl.

Dear Mark: Any chance you can share with us your Final Four picks and the eventual winner of your NCAA Bracket? Jason K.

This year, Jason, was the first that I have not filled out a bracket in over 30 years. I certainly wasn’t induced by Quicken Loans' billion-dollar grand prize, where filling out a perfect bracket and predicting the correct result of all 63 games was one in two to the 63rd power, which just happens to be one in nine million trillion (1/9,000,000,000,000,000,000).

So picks here, sorry Jason, I have none. I decided this time to just root for teams where I have paid/pay my son Nick’s tuition: University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan and Duke. Currently he is on the long road to a Ph.D., so I just may need to reconsider and take a shot at that Quicken Loans bracket.

Dear Mark: I do not play poker, let alone gamble, but someone where I work said that there is a poker hand named after me. My name Joe Bernstein and you can use my full name in your column. Have you ever heard of it? Joe B.

I have, Joe. In Hold'em, a Joe Bernstein is when one's first two cards is a 6-9. It was named after a famous gambler of the 20s-30s.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Winning isn't going to change your life. So don't bet so much that you can get hurt. If that's what betting is all about for you, wear dog tags so they know where to ship the body.” – Larry Merchant, The National Football Lottery (1973)
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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.