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Deal Me In: Will a roll of quarters 4.5 yards long last the weekend?

14 November 2008

Dear Mark: Is $600 enough of a bankroll for playing quarter slots for a weekend casino trip? Theresa S.

That depends, Theresa, on which quarter machines you choose to play and the speed at which you play them.

A $600 bankroll on a two- and three-coin machine should be enough to keep you playing for a weekend just so long as you're not Speedy-Gonzales-fast when hitting the credit button.

Characteristically, a player yanks a handle or pushes a button once every 10 seconds. On a 3-coin quarter machine, wagering 75 cents per spin, that's $4.50 per minute, or $270 per hour.

Since the average quarter machine returns approximately 92% to the player, over the long run you will lose around $22 for every hour of play. Four four-hour sessions will cost you $352, which is less than your stated bankroll. Simple "Rithmetic," Theresa, states you probably won't tap out and that $600 is enough.

Yet I couldn't help thinking of those quarters, each 1.75 mm thick, in one immense coin roller, stretching 4.5 yards, and why it won't work on all quarter machines. A $600 bankroll wouldn't be enough for a multi-coin/multi-line slot machine where you're betting 50 quarters per spin, buying you fewer than 50 spins. If you're on a cold machine, you could bust after 10 minutes of play.

Another alternative, Theresa, is that I sweet-talk you into playing video poker instead. Even poor play on a video poker machine will give you a better payback than most "reel" slot machines do, and that $600 bankroll will last even longer.

Dear Mark: I was hoping that you can settle a argument between me and a friend of mine. He is insisting that the highest hand in poker is a royal flush in SPADES. Everyone else states that a royal flush is the highest hand no matter what suit, and a spade royal would not beat another royal if both were in the same deal. Years ago my friend's mother used to have high-stakes games at her house. I am sure if you have a game at your house you can make your own rules, just as long as all players know about them, but generally speaking, there is no such thing as spades ranking supreme. Steve P.

If your friend's mother is gracious enough to let her card club spill beer and chip dip all over her carpet, she can make the rules of the house, and spades, which reflects nobility in the structure of medieval society, I guess ranks supreme in her house.

At our kitchen table pinochle game, my Mom's rule was that spades paid double, so you would always try to grab the bid, even if your chances were slim of making it.

But in the casino, no poker game, video or otherwise, is suit specific on any hand. Occasionally though, a casino will have a promotion with designated video poker machines paying higher jackpots if certain straights, flushes or royals are in a particular suit. There are also a few video poker machines that pay a mega-jackpot if you hit a royal flush in a predetermined suit with cards in sequential order (Example: 10 of spades, J, Q, K and ace of spades), but what plays as an occasional promotion on a video poker machine will get you a baffled stare in any poker room.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:

"Winning enhances your self-esteem faster than a year's worth of psychotherapy." --Cat Hulbert, Outplaying the Boys

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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.