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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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How much is enough?

24 September 1999

Dear Mark,
I work as a dealer on an Indian reservation in northern Michigan. One of the most common mistakes I see is players getting ahead, then giving all their winnings back to the casino. Why do you think so many players are boneheads? Anonymous for job protection.

One word, GREED. Too many players, when greed sets in, keep upping the ante on what they want to win. "Enough" is just over the horizon, and like the horizon, it recedes when they approach it.
This column always recommends having a predetermined win plan. All players should set loss limits and win goals. Without this money management strategy, your typical player generally becomes a casino statistic called the "hold," a percentage of chips purchased by the customer and then won back by the casino. All too often, when the rapacity of a player goes unchecked, the player's entire bankroll slowly but surely reverts to the casino.

Dear Mark,
If a slot machine pays back with hot coins, does that mean it's a hot machine? Sly G.

No, Sly, the temperature of the coins has nothing to do with the machine's payback percentage.
I remember years ago seeing a gentleman heating up his coins with a hair dryer in the men's bathroom. In questioning his gaming prowess he replied with unwavering conviction that inserting hot coins produced more winners because the coins coming out of his favorite machine were hot. My explanation that coins falling out hot is due to the close proximity of lights and other electrical components to the hopper fell on deaf ears.

Dear Mark,
Is there any difference between the crap tables of Nevada and those in Atlantic City? William B.

Excluding the ability in Nevada to take higher odds on your line bets, the biggest difference on the craps table layout in Atlantic City is there is no big 6 or 8. When the player bets on the big 6 or 8, the payoff is even money, whereas it is 7-to-6 bet when either the 6 or 8 is wagered as a "place bet" in either state. The latter is a much smarter wager.

Dear Mark,
I always feel awkward when I see a player playing alone at blackjack and I want to play on the same game. What do you suggest? Robin W.

When I see a player playing solo, especially when his bet exceeds what I plan on wagering, I ask him politely if he prefers to play head-to-head with the dealer or would he mind some company. This always seems to work.

Dear Mark,
I buy $50 worth of lottery tickets per week. How long will it take for me mathematically to finally hit the jackpot? Jenny S.

If, just if, Jenny, your genetic structure is predisposed to longevity, you can plan on winning the jackpot once every 7,000 years. Then again, given enough opportunity ($50 per week), any supernatural occurrence due to chance can happen. This is what makes the lottery/gambling so attractive.

Dear Mark,
I recently found your column on an internet site in Stockholm, Sweden. I enjoy your historic questions the most. I am doing a research paper at the University about the introduction of casino gambling in the state where you live, Nevada. Can you tell me when it became a legal enterprise? Stefan E.

A buckaroo politician for Humboldt County named Phil Tobin presented the assembly bill in 1931 making gambling both legal and taxable. Governor Fred Balzar, also known as "Friendly Fred," signed the open gambling law on March 19, 1931. Coincidentally, on that same day Balzar signed into law a bill that would drive tourism, he thought, far more than gambling ever would: the six weeks divorce statute.

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.