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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Splitstown revisited

6 April 2012

Dear Mark: In today's column, you discuss the answer to the question of splitting 10s. You touched on the subject of "putting your stellar hand in unwarranted jeopardy." I think that is the main reason not to split 10s, and although I recognize that any player’s actions have little effect on "taking the dealer's bust card," I still go into a tizzy when someone splits 10s, and more often than not, I will leave that table. Joe R.

As you should, Joe — move, that is. There is no need to allow another player to cause you a heightened state of anxiety. Besides, most gaming statutes across the US do not allow casinos to crazy glue a player to a stool. Free hooch tends to keep you seated, but any form of adhesive is prohibited.

At least, you, Joe, and most of those who regularly read this column know, far too many players blame the anchorman (third base), or others, for giving the dealer an advantage by splitting 10s. For the average Joe, or even someone who benefits from the use of perfect basic strategy – seat position or another player’s action has little significance on a player's expected return.

Dear Mark: Are you and a spouse allowed to share roulette chips at the roulette table? My wife, who was sitting patiently waiting for me to lose my remaining chips, decided to help me with that effort and play some of my chips. The dealer would not allow it. What gives? Randy L.

In the joints where I worked, roulette’s color-coded chips were not allowed to be bet, or intermingled with, friends’ or family, even if, mathematically, the casino would repossess them at a faster pace. If you and your spouse are playing together, you will need to get separate-colored chips.

Dear Mark: I was at a casino last month and saw a person just betting on the Pair Plus circle at three-card poker. He seemed to be doing pretty good, but I was just wondering what your thoughts were regarding this as a strategy for this particular game? Bruce S.

With three-card poker, there are three betting areas: the Ante circle, a Play square and a Pair Plus circle. The player whom you observed just so happened to favor the Pair Plus wager, a bet that his hand would consist of a pair or higher (Pair Plus).

With a Pair Plus wager, you immediately know whether you have won a Pair Plus payoff as soon as you look at your cards. With a Pair Plus bet, there is no raising or discarding, and the dealer’s cards are immaterial, with payoffs made according to a posted schedule, regardless of the dealer’s hand.

As you know, Bruce, I am one to belabor the point of only making wagers that have less than a 2 percent house edge, but Pair Plus bets may perhaps rate an exception to that rule. Although the house edge on the "ante" wager is approximately 2.1 percent, the "pair plus" has a slightly higher, tolerable casino advantage of just 2.3 percent, and worthy of a one thumb up recommendation.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I've always believed that a small dose of fear is good when you're in a casino." -- Jean Scott
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.