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Best of Mark Pilarski
Deal Me In: This cultist can't offer reader counsel28 August 2009
Dear Mark: I'm figuring you are the go-to person regarding this gambling-related question. Could you please give me some recommendations on gambling software for Windows that you have tried over the years? Nick G.
In April of 1984, I walked into a computer store in Reno, NV, walked out with a Macintosh 128, then drove my newest prized possession up the hill to Lake Tahoe in a automobile worth half what the computer cost. Scores of Macintoshes since, and I'm figuring no less than 25, I'm still with the Apple family. I've never owned, met, acknowledged nor operated a Windows machine. Apple's slogan then, "if you can point, you can use a Macintosh" appealed to the right side of my noggin. I know, Nick, it's not a religion, it's a computer. Still, I'm just not your "go-to" guy, especially when it comes to doling out field test advice regarding Windows gambling software.
So instead, I'm going to recommend that you check out the Gamblers Book Shop at or call 800-522-1777). Their collection of gambling software is second to none, all meritoriously described in their FREE catalog. Ask for it, it's great.
Now if only I had bought some shares of Apple along the way.
Dear Mark: I play blackjack at MGM casino in Detroit, and have a question about the number of decks used. Their tables are $10 to $25 using eight decks and $50, $100 and $200 tables using six decks. My question is this: Is it better to play at a table with six decks or with eight decks, regardless of the denomination? Sonia K.
I'm leery of giving guidance when I see the words "regardless of the denomination" in the question. Reason being, Sonia, I don't want you to be one of those every man-Jack and every woman-Jill's who mulishly stays at any table, no matter what the denomination, getting whacked hand after hand, figuring they are due.
The better way to play is to get on a game with the lowest denomination table available, and when things start going south, you're only losing the table minimum. When the Gods of Gaming are rewarding you with good fortune, you can progressively bet more.
Anyway, all other rules of the game being equal, six decks handicap your play 0.54%, and eight decks 0.58%. Hardly a noticeable distinction, Sonia, when you're taking a beating and getting your head handed to you on a plate at 10x the amount you could be betting.
Dear Mark: I have been told, by casino employees, that the best bet in the entire house, bar none, is to go to the craps table and play $5 on the pass line, and $10 underneath. Do you agree? If not, what would you say is the best bet in the house? Larry M.
The suggestion from a craps dealer of making a pass line bet, and taking odds, is a sound guerrilla gambling strategy. With a $5 pass line bet on the number 10, if you win, your pass line bet is paid at even money, bringing you $5 in winnings, but your odds bet is paid at the 2-1 true odds, bringing you an additional $20. By making use of them, double odds drops the house edge to 0.6%, 10x odds to 0.2% and 100x odds, all the way down to 0.02%. So yes, Larry, it's one of the best bets.
But there are other good bets the casino offers as well. Blackjack and video poker using basic strategy, and baccarat.
Playing blackjack correctly brings the house edge down to well under 1%. Video poker gives you another opportunity where playing perfect basic strategy on a machine with a decent pay schedule can reduce the house advantage to well under 1%.
Baccarat's offering has a slightly higher edge, but is one of the easiest casino games to play, especially since you don't even have to know the rules, the hitting sequence being predetermined. The house advantage is either 1.17% when betting the bank hand or 1.36% with a player hand wager.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "There are three kinds of poker players: Raisers, who make things happen; folders, who avoid things that happen; and callers, who wonder, 'What the hell just happened?'" --VP Pappy
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