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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: The math always favors the casino winning it back

10 June 2016

Dear Mark: I enjoyed your response last week when you played referee on what Gary R. thought was a misdeal when the dealer had a 17, kept hitting, busted, but the dealer still took his bet. I am sure you would agree that not all casinos would have scooped up his wager. Anyhow, I have a protocol question relating to what should have happened next. That one extra card dealt now makes the deck completely out of sequence from when the dealer first shuffled the cards. What is the policy now? Does the dealer keep dealing or immediately shuffle up? Tom O.

Again, Tom, I played referee to Gary R’s inquiry based on the rules and regulations of the casinos where I had worked. I kept how I would have handled his scenario out of my answer.

This week time for a disclaimer: When working on the inside, Yours Truly did not necessarily make every decision According to Hoyle. I tried my best to remain consistent, but I will also admit there were times I would drift from black and white into gray.

I had a strong belief that customer service was paramount and border decisions should favor the player unless the mistake was illegal or egregious. I would constantly ask myself, “Do we want lose to a customer for life over a $50 slip-up?” The math always favors the casino, and when you show a little generosity and let the customer keep what technically isn’t theirs, the house still ends up getting it all back within a hand or two anyway. Believe me when I tell you that I have seen plenty of customers get into a tizzy over less, cash out, and never be seen again.

As to your “what happens next” question, had Gary R. been sitting on a single- or double-deck game, the dealer should have shuffled up after the incident. If it were a shoe or auto shuffler, typically you would just play on.

Dear Mark: Here in Reno, casinos have multi-game machines that offer different games like video poker, blackjack, keno, etc. Do all of these games operate based on the same odds as a table game? Andy R.

Reno, and similarly all gaming jurisdictions, use random number generators for player results on all electronic games. In Nevada, it is state law that any electronic game that uses representations of cards, dice, keno balls, even a roulette ball spinning round and round must be based on fair odds. To achieve the same odds as that of a hand dealt game, the game maker uses a random number generator for each game within the same machine.

Dear Mark: I tend to do better at slots when I play during the day. Is there a particular time of day that it is better to play slots than another? Janice B.

No, Janice. The odds remain the same regardless of the time of day.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Numbers have souls, and you can’t help but get involved with them in a personal way.” – Paul Auster, The Music of Change (1990)
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.