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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Stretch your strategy until it whimpers

26 October 2012

Dear Mark: Where I play, all the table games on the weekend have minimum table limits of $10-$25 a hand, which is far too expensive for my $50-$100 bankroll. I have actually lost my entire bankroll in less than 20 minutes. What is your recommendation for a game that will at least give me some staying power? Jay M.

For starters, Jay, let's change up the game you're playing: Lower your bet size, but maintain making bets that have a casino advantage of less than 2 percent. Sticking to this strategy will keep you in action longer and temper the flow of your hard-earned money into the house's catch-basin.

Since where and when you play have such high table limits, allow me to lead you to the video poker trough. It does involve some skill of identifying pay tables, plus, you will need to use your noggin to play the game smart.

When playing perfect basic strategy on a machine with a decent pay schedule, you can reduce the house advantage to well under 1 percent. Look for a 9/6 (nine for the full house, six for a flush) non-progressive machine or an 8/5-er (same as above) with a progressive meter attached that reads at least, $2,200 on a quarter and $8,800 on a dollar machine.

Both the quarter and dollar machines will give you a decent long-term payback, but if you want to play for an extended period of time, like hours on end, a drop in the denomination to a quarter machine with give you some serious staying power. Hit a royal, and your payday will be considerably more than what you'd be making while trying to slug it out on a blackjack table at $10 a whack.

Dear Mark: Does losing a hand to a lousy play from a fellow player alter the cards on the following hands? Alex B.

Your question, Alex, highlights one of many popular myths when it comes to playing blackjack, that poor play from one hand influences future cards.

The remaining cards in any deck(s) do not recognize the play of previous hands. The next hand remains an independent event, and your chances of winning or losing are the same whether you, or a fellow player, won, lost, or even misplayed, the preceding 5, 10 or 15 hands.

Dear Mark: Does picking numbers at video keno involve luck, patterns, or is it based on previous numbers that have or have not been drawn? I usually play nine spots and have yet to hit my numbers solid. Fred G.

Picking numbers at video keno, Fred, is based strictly on luck. The numbers are chosen at random with each draw being an independent event, so playing past numbers, patterns or numbers you feel are "due" does not work. Video keno uses microprocessor technology and randomized sequencing. On a properly functioning video keno machine, no specific number or combination of numbers is any more likely to appear than any other number or combination of numbers.

The upshot here, Fred, is that video keno is a negative-expectation game with a hefty house edge. Additionally, the odds of hitting a nine of nine ticket are one in 1,380,687.

Based on the astronomical odds of hitting your ticket solid, a friendly suggestion would be to switch to a game like video poker, which has a far, far lower house edge.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Luck: when your burst of energy doesn't run afoul of someone else's." — Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
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.