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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Slot tournaments 101

24 February 2012

Dear Mark: Like many of your readers, I also enjoy slot tournaments. Does the casino ever leave the tournament chips in after the tournament, giving the player a real shot at taking down some serious cash? Gus R.

No need to back up the F150 pickup truck to haul off 20,000 pounds of quarters on tournament machines left on, Gus, as once a tournament is over, machines go dark, chips are swapped out for normal play, then reactivated so that the casino can go about their usual predation of holding a much higher percentage on their one-armed bandits. One thing the casino isn’t into is losing money, which would be the case if tournament chips stayed active for cash play.

Of note, Gus, I did get an e-mail this past week from Allen E. who works slots in a casino, and he stated that the newer slot machines actually did not require tournament chips to be exchanged anymore. The chips within are programmed with slot tournament software, and all that needs to be done to enable the tournament chip is to set the options in the software before a tournament.

Dear Mark: Why do counters increase their bet size when the un-dealt cards are rich in big cards? Outside of getting more of the possibility of a blackjack, I see no reason why you should bet more. Bill W.

Card counters keep track of all the cards that are played in previous rounds, which gives them some knowledge of the ratio of big cards to small cards on the next hand. Appropriately, Bill, they use that count to vary their bet size.

Your question does mention one reason why counters bet more, that being high-value cards are more favorable to the player because there will be more blackjacks dealt, and players get a bonus payoff when they get one. But wait, there’s more.

Dealers are forced to draw on a 12 through 16, and a high card will bust their hand. Double downs and splitting opportunities are more favorable to the player when the deck(s) are rich in big cards. In addition, for the card counter, insurance can become a profitable wager when there is an excess of big cards. Even for the non-counter, Bill, big cards favor you, small cards favor the casino.

Dear Mark: When playing Deuces Wild and you have four cards needed for a natural royal flush, along with a deuce, do you discard the deuce? Mike P.

There is nothing more exciting, Mike, than hitting a natural royal flush when you play video poker, but even if you were to hold four-to-the-royal, it is not as lucrative as sticking with a wild-card royal flush.

Suppose, Mike, along with your deuce, you have a jack-queen-king-ace of spades, giving you a wild-card royal. The payout on most full-pay Deuces Wild machines is 125 coins with a five-coin inserted.

If you were to chase a 4,000 coin jackpot by discarding the deuce and gamble for a 10 of spades to complete a natural royal flush, depending on the paytable, your average return over the long haul will be far less than 125 coins. On a full-pay Deuces Wild machine, which pays 125 coins on the wild royal, 10 for a straight and 10 for a flush, your return for discarding the deuce is 96.6 coins, so, Mike, a wild-card royal is always a keeper.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I'm not sure I like poker very much anymore. In fact, I hate this game. HATE! HATE! HATE! I'd like to kill poker, but first disembowelment." --Jay Lovinger, ESPN Poker Club
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.