CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Related Links
Related News
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Deal Me In: Trust, but verify

23 November 2012

Dear Mark: Concerning blackjack, I recently bought into about the only good single-deck game left in Vegas, at the El Cortez Hotel & Casino, for $100. I played one hand for the $5 minimum bet and lost. For some reason, I then counted my chips and found that I had $90. I brought this to the dealer's attention, and she said that two hands were played. Well, maybe a hand was in progress prior to my buy in, but I told her that I had only made one $5 bet and was short $5. She called the pit boss over and explained what I had said and the pit boss instructed her to give me a $5 chip. I doubt whether the dealer made this mistake intentionally, but after this experience, I think players should count their chip buy-in prior to placing any bet to make sure it's correct. Mac B.

Was it intentional? Nah, I would bet dollars to donuts against it. Just because Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky once owned a piece of the El Cortez in the 40s, the high-spirited behavior of yesteryear does not exist today.

Las Vegas residents, along with Yours Truly, love this joint. In fact, their official marketing slogan has been, "Where locals come to play." As you mentioned, the El Cortez offers a very favorable, player friendly, single-deck blackjack game with rules such as: the dealer hits a soft 17, you can double down on any first two cards, split any pair, and re-split any pair (except aces), but no doubling after splitting. The house edge on this game is 0.18 percent.

Allow me, Mac, to add a couple of considerations vis-a-vis that from a management and dealer position. For starters, when playing two hands, most casinos will make you bet double that amount per betting circle, so you would have been wagering $20, and not $10 on your opening round. Next, let's look to dealer error.

Possibly, Mac, you ran into a newbie dealer. I mention this because The El Cortez is renowned for being a "break-in house" for new table game dealers to gain experience before moving on to the bigger casinos on the Strip.

Most new dealers develop their knack for pitching cards and cutting checks by going to a local, or casino, dealing school. Although dealers spend countless hours practicing check cutting, mistakes happen, even to a seasoned dealer.

When I taught the class, I noticed that a few students would pick up, and never shake, the bad habit of breaking down a $100 stack in four $25 stacks of $5 chips using their thumb to cut the chips instead of their index finger, which can cause the dealer to come up short one chip on the fourth stack. Using your forefinger to cut and verify, then spreading the fourth stack, is the clearest way for the dealer, player, pit supervisor and eye in the sky to observe the transaction.

Then there is the tired dealer. If I got a tap on the shoulder after eight hours asking if I'd work overtime, my game tended to go south. It is the pit supervisor's job to safeguard the integrity of the game, which is why you have pit bosses on the lookout for dealers making errors like the one you described. Yours was a no-brainer. Pay the customer his $5, and in all likelihood, the house will get it back on the next hand.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Las Vegas: A privileged, immemorial space, where things lose their shadow, where money loses its value, and where the extreme rarity of traces of what signals to us there leads men to seek the instantaneity of wealth." - Jean Baudrillard
Related Links
Related News
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.