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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Slot personnel will be your happy guide

25 June 2010

Dear Mark: Maybe it's a frivolous question you have already answered, but which quarter slot machines typically offer the highest returns? Ron G.

No problem here, Ron, about you being fussy over such details. For all I know Persnickety is your middle name.

Where you will find quarter slot machines that have the highest payback is at casinos that advertise a guaranteed return of 98-99% return on "selected machines."

Granted, Ron, "selected machines" can be few and far between on the casino floor, and these high payback slots are usually only found where the casino competition is fervent. When you do find a casino advertising liberal paybacks, you'll then need to ask someone in slot personnel which machines those are.

Oh, and just in case you find some generous machines with decent paybacks, the higher payout rate only applies if you don't continue to bet your winning credits. Unfortunately, that's not the way most people play. They recycle (churn) their money back through the machines. Casino operators have long realized the advantage they have between an advertised payout and the coinage they eventually reap by comparing credits won versus credits paid out.

When credits won are generally replayed, and replayed and replayed again, this results mathematically in a much greater chance of eventually lowering that liberal payback considerably. Sure, the casino may advertise a 98% return, but after the churn takes place, you'll generally go home lighter in the wallet.

Other slots to look for when you can't find machines that advertise such-and-such paybacks are those that do not offer bonus rounds, brand-name affiliations and progressive jackpots. For example, Red White and Blue and Double Diamonds are examples of stand-alone machines that would fall into this group.

Dear Mark: Could you tell me the percentage against the player of the "Dragon Bonus" wager in mini-baccarat? John A.

Dragon Bonus is an optional side wager for mini-baccarat that pays odds according to the point spread between the player's and banker's totals.

Players have two ways to win. When their selected hand (banker or player) for the Dragon Bonus bet is a natural winner, or, when their selected hand wins by four or more points.

Like most side bets to be had, the house edge is usually inferior to what is offered by the customary wagers on the game. Dragon Bonus on mini-baccarat is no exception.

With stakes that are relatively low when you play on a mini-baccarat table, and a house advantage of either 1.17% when betting the bank hand or 1.36% with a player hand wager, I would recommend your skipping the Dragon Bonus wager altogether since you are already sitting on two of the best bets the casino has to offer. No need to dilute an already good deal. But since you asked, the player Dragon Bonus has a house edge of 2.65%, and surprisingly, even though Baccarat is a banker-advantage game, the banker Dragon Bonus house edge is 9.37%.

Gambling Wisdom of Week: "Poker pros should be a little less contemptuous of the amateur players, who they like to refer to as 'fish' or 'donkeys.' Most of these so-called 'fish' and 'donkeys' probably hold down respectable jobs that contribute to society, unlike what the pros do for a living." --VP Pappy
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.