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I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

15 December 2002

Dear Mark,
I never bet the progressive dollar bet in Caribbean Stud, but you said you should "depending on the size of the jackpot." In all my playing time, I have hit one flush, so the extent of my savings far outweighs what my losses would be by putting that white chip in the slot. Of course, if I did hit the progressive with my red light off I would absolutely have a stroke, and never gamble again.

I know the smaller payoffs I may miss wouldn't bother me very much (except the 10% of the progressive). When would it be prudent to put that dollar in the slot? For instance, the jackpot at the Atlantic City Tropicana is now at close to $200,000. Is that high enough?
By the way, the dealer at the Tropicana said the progressive tends to hit about once a year, usually around Xmas. I was there Dec. 8, so maybe it was just a ruse to get me to bet. Suzanne W.

.
Caribbean Stud Poker is in essence a game of five-card stud poker, without the luxury of a draw. The progressive jackpot's payout for royal and straight flushes (the jackpot also pays for fours-of-a-kind, full houses and flushes) is based on the amount indicated on the meter, which can, as you noted, be as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I stated in a previous column that the dollar offering was worth a buck only if the jackpot came within a stone's throw of true odds; a variable factor, I know: How far can you heave a rock?

Personally, I have never made the wager, as the highest jackpot on any slot game I have played was around $155,000.

That said, Suzanne, let's do the arithmetic. There are 2,598,560 possible five-card combinations in a standard 52-card deck. With four ways to make a royal flush, the true odds of hitting a natural royal are 649,760 to one. So, Suzanne, is a jackpot of $200,000-with odds of hitting it close to 650,000 to one-worth a measly buck? The answer seems to me a real no-brainer, but there plenty of wishful gamesters among us who don't mind making a dollar donation to the casino every 45 seconds, always looking for that green Christmas . . . two centuries away.

Dear Mark,
What is the proper way to bet at a poker table in a casino? Seems the casino has different rules than us homegrown players. I was recently scolded by the dealer for throwing chips into the pot. Before I go blaming the dealer for this incident, I thought I would seek your advice. Stan F.

Often seen depicted in the movies, it's called "splashing the pot," One-eyed Pete kills a gulletful of Southern Comfort before seeing and raising Cactus Jack, doing so with a derisive toss of chips directly into the pot. Neat scene from the "talkies" and a possible friendly flourish on your kitchen table, but in a real casino room in the real world that gets a practiced reprimand from the dealer.

That show of movie-mimicry can oblige the dealer to pause play and count down the pot. That buzzing noise is the brouhaha stirred up in fellow players.
Proper etiquette, Stan, when you bet in a card room, is as follows. Simply place your chips directly in front of you. It is the dealer's job is to make sure that you have put up the proper amount, and to sweep your bet into the pot.

Gambling quote of the week: "When a guy finally gets his rushes in gambling, nothing can stop him for a while." Damon Runyon

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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.