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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Few can afford not to care

2 September 2005

Before I Deal: The Biloxi Sun Herald was one of the first newspapers to give this writer his fledgling break and carry Deal Me In. Any writer who syndicates a column will tell you that they forever feel a special kinship to the community where their column first appears. But even if you have never been to the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, few can view the staggering blow dealt the area and not feel a need to pitch in.

The least I can do is suspend monthly billing the Biloxi Sun Herald, indefinitely, and ask instead that the Sun Herald disburse that money to an appropriate relief fund to help those in need. Yet, I suspect my column might not even be carried for some time as the dozen gaming establishments were severely damaged by Katrina — costing the state coffers a half-million dollars per day in lost, desperately needed tax revenues, not to mention the effect on the 14,000 people who work in the 12 casinos along the Mississippi coastline. Why would anyone want to publish the insignificant until the crippled gambling industry gets back on its feet, which could take months, potentially even years.

So how can you and I lend a helping hand? By raiding that jar of quarters stashed in a cupboard above the refrigerator; quarters designated for some anonymous one-armed bandit, now become quarters needed to ease the misery. The American Red Cross is a good place to start inserting that loose change. Their hotline number is (800) 435-7669, (www.redcross.org). Donations will provide clean water, food, and shelter for the surviving disaster victims. For your donation to go specifically to Hurricane Katrina relief, write Katrina on the check.

Other relief agencies that have set up dedicated websites and phone lines for donations to help with rescue and rebuilding are the United Methodist Committee on Relief: (800) 554-8583 (http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/work/emergencies/ongoing/hurricane2005/), The Salvation Army: (800) 725-2769 (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org), Catholic Charities: (800) 919-9338 (http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org), Feed the Children: (800) 525-7575 (http://www.feedthechildren.org) and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, (703) 339.5596 (http://www.nvoad.org).

I hope the residents of Biloxi and Gulfport will accept my sincere words of sympathy in connection with the natural disaster that has struck their area. I am incredibly aware that Hurricane Katrina has caused immeasurable grief and significant economic losses to hundreds of thousands of citizens, but I will await with great anticipation for that southern charmed "come on down" call, so I can personally open my wallet again and pump some much-needed dollars into their economy. Hopefully you all will do likewise.

Dear Mark, Could you please explain a "buy" bet in craps and what is the house advantage? While you're at it, you might as well also describe a "lay" wager also. Gary M.

A buy bet, Gary, is essentially the same as a place bet except that you pay a commission of 5% on the amount of your wager. If you win, the casino will pay you at the true odds, minus 5%. You get your best cluck-for-the-buck when you wager at least $20, because the minimum commission the casino will charge you for making a buy wager is a buck, which happens to be 5% of $20. The casino edge on any buy bet for $20 works out to 4.76%, although the percentage becomes higher on lesser wagers.

A lay bet is the polar opposite of a buy wager. With a lay bet, like the don't come wager, you are betting with the house and hoping that a 7 appears before a point number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10). Like buy bets, lay bets are paid off at true odds, again, minus that commission of 5% of the amount won. Lay bets also have a minimum payoff of $20, because 5% of $20 is $1, and that's the casino's minimum charge.

For instance, on the numbers 5 and 9 you will have to lay $30 to win $20, which gives the casino an edge of 3.23%. For the 6 and 8 you will have to lay $24 to win $20. Here the casino advantage is 4.00%. The best wager to lay is the 4 and 10. While you will have to lay $40 to win $20, the house edge is reduced to 2.44%.

Gambling Wisdom of the week: "To have bad luck, one must still have luck." --Jewish Proverb

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.