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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: The Standing Committee is called to order

27 August 2010

Dear Mark: I am curious as to why casinos do not give you any $10 bills when you cash in a ticket at the cashier cage or the ticket redemption machine. What is their reasoning behind this? Stan P.

Being that over 10 percent of all newly printed U.S. banknotes are $10 bills, that's a new one on me. All the places I play, Stan, my sawbucks go in, and nothing comes out. Possibly it's because Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill, and he wasn't born in the United States. Birthers, chomp on that.

Sure, a few times when I worked the cashier's cage we wouldn't give out certain denomination banknotes on a busy weekend if they were in short supply, but that was prior to bill acceptors and counterfeiting, which leads me to believe possibly you may have a counterfeit problem where you play.

Back in 2005, over fifty thousand fake $10 bills were used in slot machines at several casinos and convenience stores in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Reno. The bill validators inside some of the machines were not recognizing the fake bills, so the casinos had to set their machines to reject the 10-spots.

It was a bit frustrating for the casinos because in 2000, to combat evolving counterfeiting, Treasury issued a new $10 bill that was similar in style to the $20, the $50 and the $100, bills that had already undergone design changes. A cage cashier could reject bogus banknotes because of inferior quality, but the fakes were good enough to fool bill acceptors.

The newest $10 bill entered circulation in March 2006, with additional design changes that made them even tougher to counterfeit, and I'm assuming all bill acceptors have been updated by now, so I'm a little stumped at this point.

Now in the pit, Stan, it's a different story. Chips possess none of the qualities of real money. Dollars have a more familiar and "old pal" feel and are difficult to surrender; parting with a casino chip is child's play by comparison. That is why casinos prefer pit employees to "change color" or upgrade your chips. They are being courteous, yes, but also hoping it induces larger play. At the cashier's cage though, I think players would be more likely to pocket a $20 instead of two $10s.

So, Stan, I'll to throw your question out to the Standing Committee on Oddities (our readers, that is) and see if and why it's happening where they play.

Dear Mark: In blackjack, why are cards dealt face-up, and why are you not allowed to touch the cards when they are? Jenny S.

Casinos tend to get a little sensitive when players get touchy-feely with the cards once the dealer starts dealing.

On a single- and two-deck game where cards are dealt face down, players are allowed to pick the cards up with one hand, but not two. When four or more decks of cards are used, they are usually dealt face-up from a shoe, making it a hands-free game with no raison de touché for physical contact with the cards.

The rationale behind the cards being dealt face-up is that it speeds up the game. Dealers can instantly announce hand totals without themselves handling the cards. Additionally, it eliminates the potential for cheating by a player marking or switching them.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "We're encouraged to believe that it's OK for the Lottery to rob us blind because so much of the money is going to good causes." - Derek McGovern, Racing Post, 19 November 1994
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.