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Deal Me In: Those thinking machines have still not arrived

20 November 2009

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: If a machine has just paid out a jackpot, would you recommend moving to another machine being that the machine now has to recoup its losses? Dale M.

Far too many players erroneously believe that any machine that has just hit a jackpot won't hit another anytime soon because the machine has to re-prime the pump and win back the money it just forked out. No so, my friends.

It doesn't matter whether a machine has paid out one, or multiple payouts, as the odds of landing a winning combination are the same on each and every whirl. There's just no mathematical reason to switch machines after any number of winning, or losing, spins.

Now, Dale, if a machine isn't paying after a certain number of losing spins, and you're getting bit perturbed, yes, I can rationalize that as a good reason to switch, but that's an emotional reason, and not a mathematical justification for changing machines.

Dear Mark: If you are a member of a slot club and you receive cash back, gift or comp based on your play playing slots, does the casino report those perks to the IRS? Mary Ellen H.

The only thing the casino reports to the IRS is a slot win of $1200 or more, and for that you'll be issued a W2G, but what they don't do is report cash back, gifts, or comps that you receive based on your card use and patronage.

Dear Mark: Why are Don't Pass players allowed to take down their bets on a crap game but Pass Line players are not? I think this is unfair. Jason S.

Because if the casino allowed craps players to take down Pass line wagers at will, Craps would easily be a beatable game.

The reason being, Jason, is that on the come out roll, a Pass line player has eight ways of winning (dice combinations that make a seven or 11) and only four ways to lose: One way of making either the two or 12, and the two rolls that total three. Once a point has been established, that's when the casino makes its dough.

If the casino allowed you to take down your pass bets whenever you wanted, the intelligent play would be to bet Pass line on the come out roll, collect our winnings on 7 and 11 where you have eight ways of winning and only four of losing, and then take down your bets when any point was established. I hardly think the casino is going to allow you to win two-thirds of your bets without taking your lumps. Yes, you have an edge on the come out roll, but you have to bear an inferior position on subsequent rolls.

The Don't Pass bettor, endures his pain on the come out when they have eight ways of losing (7s and 11s) and only have three ways of winning (2, 3, 12). The smart move for them is to stay in play after a point has been established when the casino becomes the underdog, and they the favorite with a 66% chance of winning.

Before I Shuffle: Regarding my recent column on MI casino payback rates, I inadvertently mentioned that the Michigan Racing Commission regulated casinos. It should have read the Michigan Gaming Commission.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "The root of all superstitions is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses." --Sir Frances Bacon

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.