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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Your chances of busting are not as great as you think

20 March 2015

Dear Mark: Your reference to splitting 10s in the last round of a tournament reminds me of my favorite casino story: Dice isn’t my game (I have only one game — 21) but once I stopped by a dice table to witness the last roll in a tournament. One player, who was in the middle of the pack and not likely to win anything, put all his money on the boxcars prop bet. A pair of sixes showed up and he won the tournament, which led me to conclude that what happens in the last round of any tournament a) is insane and b) has nothing to do with reality. Bob W.

Few players, Bob, have the knack to track those final frenzied moments of a tournament. It is tough enough figuring out your remaining bankroll, let alone an opponent’s. Still, depending upon the game, I am not going to chalk up the last round of a tournament as “insane” or “having nothing to do with reality.”

When it comes to a craps tournament, successful players who are ahead will mirror every bet of those competitors who are close behind. This can prevent their rivals from ever catching up. If the closest challenger places $1,000 on the 6 or 8 or Pass Line, the aware leader will mimic that play.

When you are slightly behind, you close the gap on the front-runner by betting the polar opposite. If he or she is betting $500 on the Pass line, you would bet $500 on the Don't, making for your winning when that player loses.

Another way to catch up is by making proposition wagers that pay off in large amounts, such as that boxcar proposition bet you mentioned. True, the odds are poor on these long-shot bets, and I would never recommend these wagers for conventional play. But I have seen a few tournaments won employing these come-from-behind long shot bets, especially in the latter stages of a tournament.

When it comes to a blackjack tournament, the most important thing to remember is that all players are competing against the same dealer. The implication of this is that players tend to have similar outcomes on any given hand. If the dealer busts, the results on the table tend to be the same: a win. If the dealer has a blackjack, everyone loses.

In most instances, the eventual winner of a blackjack tournament tends to play each hand correctly. And, obviously, winners usually have better cards than their competitors. However, in those final moments, you can gain ground by both betting and playing your hand differently than the others at the table.

One thing I do recommend for those seeking to increase their skills for a blackjack tournament is to play as many FREE online tournaments as possible. (Please note that I am not encouraging online gambling here, just you playing with no skin in the game).

Playing countless hands, especially at high speeds, helps you figure out how to keep from getting knocked out, especially when you get to elimination hands, betting strategies, hand play, understanding position, and chip counting.

When it comes to slot tournaments, I recommend shifting tactics and concentrating strictly on your play and NOT gawking at the scores of your neighbor.

There is but one strategy when it comes to slot tournaments. Get as many spins as possible and develop skills at pushing the spin button with split-second precision.

The skillful tournament player is keenly aware that the machine will not spin again until the winning credits have been tallied, then displayed on the screen. Timing is everything. A few precious seconds here or there can sometimes be the decider on whether you advance to the next round or not.

All that said, Bob, it sure helps to get lucky along the way, for it is the hot player who always passes for a genius.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Sensible people don't expect justice from chance.” – Alan Wykes, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Gambling (1964)
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.