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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind

19 September 2014

Dear Mark: Is it appropriate to tip a casino host? When I hit, the dealer, bartender, server(s) and the slot attendants are automatic. I see very few people doing it. I was just curious. Mike B.

Speaking, Mike, on behalf of all casino employees, I can assure you they sure do appreciate your spreading the love around. Casino employees need those gestures of gratuity to make a decent wage. If the casinos had to pay a true living wage, they would have to figure a way of making up for lost revenue, like changing the rules of the game, increasing table minimums and even altering paybacks.

As for tipping a casino host, it is voluntary, but not expected. In many casinos, it is not even allowed, but still happens. The reason is that hosts are compensated according to the player’s action vs. how much in goodies they hand out.

That said, Mike, tipping a host, especially if you are asking for perks beyond your level play, can be worth it. One example would be getting into tournaments and events that you might be marginally qualified for. If a host gets you into a tournament where you needed their help getting you in, and you win a boatload of money, then you might consider tipping both the dealers and your host generously.

Yes, I have tipped casino hosts in the past, discreetly by using an envelope that had a gift certificate in it, or occasionally, I will make a sports bet for them. One wager that paid handsomely for the host was back in 1999 when I made two $100 bets on Kenny Brack to win the Indianapolis 500 at 25/1, and handed the host one of the tickets before the race began. It was the least I could do for the royal treatment — suite, food and beverage that in all probability I didn’t deserve — that I received that Memorial weekend. If I recall correctly, he told me he was going to take his family to Disneyland with the $2,500, whereas I bought a new Mac laptop with the winnings.

The bottom line, Mike, and yes, here comes some contrary advice, is that you should never feel obligated to tip for perks that you are entitled to. Yet, I believe I am on the plus side for having done so.

Dear Mark: On a Jacks-or-Better machine, with the screen showing an A, K, Q, J and a 6 off suit, do I draw one for the 10, or do I drop the A and 6 and draw two? Also, with a three-card flush, all low w/two low off-suit, do I draw two or draw five? Kevin F.

My video poker strategy card offers a simplified strategy, which will reduce the house edge to less than one percent. Learning the complete Jacks-or-Better strategy will tighten the screws on the casino even more, and you will experience better results. For the two hands you mentioned above, this would be the correct strategy.

The four high cards off suit as described (A, K, Q, J) should be kept intact. Just draw one. As for the three-card flush, all low cards w/two low off suit, if you are looking at a three-card, double inside straight flush, yes, keep it; otherwise, draw five.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Play is a hand-to-hand encounter with Fate.” – Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus (1926)
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.