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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: No loopholes at this location

4 July 2014

Dear Mark: I read your column religiously and always find it very informative. You recently wrote a column regarding taxes and stated, "Even a Super Bowl bet won from Uncle Louie is taxable." Does the same apply to winning at an Indian Reservation casino? I have read that Indian land operates as a sovereign nation, so wouldn’t I be excluded from paying taxes? Ron R.

Every time I mention casino winnings and taxes, gamblers predictably make inquiries about money won at an Indian casino. You, like others, assume that because Indian reservations have a unique tax arrangement with the federal government and are on sovereign land, this somehow excludes your obligation to pay taxes because your windfall happened on their self-governing property.

I am sorry to say, Ron, but Uncle Sam still expects you to buck up. In the eyes of the IRS, whether a cruise ship in the Bermuda Triangle, at an illegal cellar casino in Shanghai, or at the Odawa (Indian) Casino where I live in N. Michigan, any winnings, from whatever form of gambling worldwide, are taxable and must be reported as "Other Income,” on Form 1040, of the U.S. Individual Tax Return.

Dear Mark: In your response last week to Charlie P., you suggested some software to learn how to play video poker. For those of us without access to a computer, or, in my case at 84 years old and not at all interested in learning how to use one, what do you suggest on how to improve my video poker skills? Margaret C.

Thank you, Margaret, for your handwritten correspondence, and speedy quick it was as the column you mentioned ran just a few days ago. Who says the Post Office isn’t on their game. Oh, and I must mention, such beautiful, suitable for framing, penmanship.

I do contest your trepidation of learning how to use a computer. The video poker machine you are playing on is really nothing more than a computer, using the same chunk of binary code that crunches 1s and 0s with its sole purpose of extracting your money. Yet, who am I to chastise anyone? At my father’s house, the VCR still blinks 12:00, with a DVD player absent because they are not perfected yet.

I am glad to see that you want to improve your video poker skills. Video Poker is a game that requires skill to win, with each specific game having a set strategy that will give you the maximum return if you play every hand correctly.

You, Margaret, can still create a Las Vegas experience with a handheld video game. Just purchase one of those, dare I say it, small hand-held computer games at Wal-Mart as inexpensively as $5. Along with a basic strategy card, you can sharpen your playing skills and be an expert in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

Have the hand-held computer – okay, l will soften the description by calling it an electronic souvenir game for casino play – deal you hands while you consult a strategy card as a quick reference for the correct decisions based on the video poker machine that you are on. Gamblers Book Club (http://gamblersbookclub.com), or for you, Margaret, 1.800.522.1777, has a slew of strategy cards for games like 9/6 Jacks or Better, Full Pay Deuces, Double Double Bonus, 8/5 Bonus, and many more of the most popular machines.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “It's ruthless. Completely ruthless. The cards terrorize you. Seconds stretch. It's like having the worst flu you can imagine for twenty seconds.” – Frederick Barthelme, Bob the Gambler (1997)
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.