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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Is it gaming or gambling?

22 October 1999

Dear Mark,
On a regular basis you refer to casino entertainment as gambling. The industry refers to it as gaming. Who's right? Steven S.

Depends on the prejudiced authority.My bias, Steven, is that of an irreverent syndicated gambling columnist and player advocate-hence, it's gambling. My dear friends who still work in the gambling industry in upper-management have an intoxicated partiality toward gaming.

But this juicy morsel crossed my desk compliments of Bob G., a reader of the Traverse City Record-Eagle . Bob sent me an Associated Press article written about the literary folks at Lake Superior State University. The school has an annual list of misused, overused and useless words and phrases it wants to banish from the English language. Lake Superior releases this list each Jan. 1 after gathering thousands of submissions nominated from academia, business, journalism, politics, the military and sports. On their 22nd annual list is gaming. Comments: Gaming. Used to seduce people into thinking they're not really gambling.

Dear Mark,
As a stockbroker I should know better. That is, when to get out of a bad trade, or in the case of gambling, bet. But when it comes to casino gambling, I tend to stay far too long for my own good. This tends to lead to losses much greater than if I left earlier with a small gain. How common an occurrence is this in a casino? Jeff G.

Jeff, you play in the world casino, Wall Street; doesn't your industry have an aphorism, "Be a bull or a bear, but never a hog?" Like many, many other players, Jeff, you exhibit signs of poor money management. And money management, my friend, is really nothing more than character management. To truly become a winning player you have to first know when to get up and walk.

Dear Mark,
What does the term "horn" bet mean in craps? Clayburn P.

A "horn" bet is a one-roll proposition wager which is a combination of any craps (2, 3, 12) and a bet on the 11. It pays off according to the individual payoff for each number, less the three chips that were lost. Do I recommend said wager? NO. Craps offers two kinds of one-roll bets-hopeless and wretched. Although proposition bets have seemingly lofty payoffs, the house edge is way to high too waste your hard-earned money on them.

Dear Mark,
Recently in Puerto Rico, a player at the baccarat table kept calling out "monkey" as the player who was dealing out the cards was about to draw one from the shoe. What did this mean? Pat Z.

In gamb-lingo, I've heard the term monkey used two ways. 1. A sucker. 2. A face card.
My guess is that our articulated friend was hoping the next card out of the shoe would be a face card so his hand would win out. Example: Our wishful bettor has wagered the "bank" hand and is sitting pretty with a two-card 7. The "player" hand total is a 3, subsequently needing a hit. A "monkey" would not improve the "player" hand as face cards and 10s have zero card value in baccarat. The "bank" hand would prevail.

Dear Mark,
What is the worst bet to make on a crap game? Kevin K.

The worst wager on a crap game, or any table game for that matter, is the "any seven" bet on the dice table. This one-roll proposition bet has a house edge of 16.7%.

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.