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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Overruling 'it lays it plays'

28 August 2015

Dear Mark: OK, former Pit Boss, please handle the situation I had with one of your peers on a craps table. I had been playing for about an hour making $5 pass line bets until that final seven ended my night. However, like every other gambler, I would figure one more try might swing luck back my way. I tossed a $20 bill on the table, and within seconds, it was gone; collected by a dealer because the three had rolled, and he thought I was playing the whole $20. I didn’t put up much of a fight; still, I would at least like to know what recourse I had if I pursued it any further? Lenny D.

In most casinos, Lenny, when you lay paper currency directly on the pass line, you are indicating to the dealer that your cash is in action. Once the dice land and you have a losing outcome, you normally have little recourse and are now at the mercy of the person manning the box.

If your play was a consistent $5 action throughout your previous gambling timeline, it usually isn’t that hard to convince Yours Truly, at least, that you really wanted to exchange that $20 bill into chips.

Consistent play, Lenny, can build your case for a reversal. The box person can easily verify your play by conferring with the dealer handling your bets. Or, he or she can call upstairs and have security review the film that is recording the game.

What is NOT a certainty is that playing consistently will automatically immunize you against the fallout from your failure to inform the dealer that you wanted to exchange that $20 currency for $5 chips. Yes, a split second decision on my part would probably have gotten you four nickel chips. Nevertheless, how each casino handles your ‘rules-being-rules’ scenario, then resolution, will be different among my pit bull peers.

Dear Mark: I witnessed something recently for the first time when I saw a blackjack dealer start swirling all the cards around as we used to do as kids playing the game Go Fish. What is the value of doing it? Jason P.

Shuffling cards, Jason, encompasses all kinds of card-mixing techniques to prepare a deck or decks for continued play. All casino shuffling procedures employ a combination of mixing steps, such as ‘stripping,’ ‘boxing,’ ‘riffling,’ ‘plugging,’ ‘cutting’ and other techniques.

One such method is called ‘card washing.’ Card washing is a shuffling technique where the dealer spreads the cards on the table face down, and then proceeds to swirl them with his hands in a face-washing action before gathering them up to perform a normal shuffle. Card washing is meant to remove any consistencies in the sequencing of cards that a new deck or decks of cards have.

Although card washing is seldom done on a blackjack game, you will observe it more often at a baccarat table, where the cards are washed when old decks are removed from the game, and fresh new decks are brought in to replace them. At the multiple casinos where I dealt blackjack, we never washed the cards. But, at the two casinos where I dealt baccarat, we washed them after every shoe, which I valued because it gave me some down time to gather my wits when dealing high-limit action.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Gambling was his life. He played incessantly, passionately, joyfully, and always for high stakes; not as a business or a profession, but as truly devoted monks must pray . . . as a kind of prolonged ecstasy.” – Nick "The Greek" Dandalos, Gambling Secrets of Nick the Greek (1968)
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.