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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Meet Jerry, the award-worthy guest writer

22 September 2003

Dear Mark, A long overdue note to tell you how much I enjoy your column. While I agree 100% with your gambling views, I would offer another take on keno. Having been gambling in Reno since 1948 and as a longtime Nevada resident, I consider gambling to be entertainment. Here is my take on keno. I meet three friends two or three times a week and we each play two games of keno progressive at $1.25 a game. If we win, we split the winnings. Here's the math: Two games at $1.25 and a buck for the keno writer. Another $1.00 for our "free" drink for a total of $4.50. We take turns playing, so we stay longer. In three years, our biggest win was $65.00 for 5 out of 6. $5.00 for the keno writer and a whopping $20.00 for each of us (only three of us that day). So we are not making any money, right? Now, let's look at it another way. If we met at Starbucks, do you think we could get out for $4.50? Do you think we would be welcome to hang around as long as we like? Do you think we would ever make any money? Also we have friends who spend several hundred dollars a week playing golf, or what about fishing, hunting, bowling... well, you get the idea. We enjoy ourselves and COULD win something. Reno has to be the best place in the world to live. We drink, eat and see shows for next to nothing and are welcomed every time we visit. Flash: I delayed writing you for so long, but we finally hit a solid six for $4700.00! Two hundred dollars for the keno employees and $1500.00 each of us (three again). Keep up the good work, and I especially enjoy your "war" stories about gambling. Jerry L.

Who am I, Jerry, to fault you on your philosophy? Your gambling coterie is betting money they can afford to lose, and you have set loss limits ($4.50) and win goals (free drinks). Your impeccable reasoning calls to mind the violet-haired Reno beauty who borrowed $5,000 from her bank for a two-week trip to Bermuda, leaving her $250,000 Rolls Royce in the bank's underground parking level as collateral. When she returned, repaid the 5 grand along with $15.41 in interest, and started toward the parking area, a bank VP approached her discretely and said, "Please forgive my curiosity, but why would anyone leave a car worth a quarter million as collateral for a loan of $5,000?" She smiled at him and asked, "Where else could I park my car, under guard, for two weeks, for $15.41?" Understand, Jerry, that keno is a tough beat because of the enormous casino advantage the house holds on the game. Consequently, table games and selected casino wagers, played intelligently, offer the greatest hope for the player, unlike yourselves, whose dominant purpose is walking out of the casino with the casino's loot. But I do tip my fedora to the "entertainment factor" of gambling, especially with games, keno included, that are enjoyable to play on a modest bankroll (under $5). I can't be critical of any player whose strategy limits his or her gambling to under five bucks, maintains total bankroll control, and who enjoys casino the R&R aspect of casino gambling. I think I will just muffle my claptrap and quietly endorse the proceedings of your cadre of green felt gamblers.

Gambling quote of the week: "Mastering the inherent unpredictability of any game or art form can trigger overpowering 'pleasure,' and this dopamine rush gets deeply embedded in the memory of some of the most talented practitioners." James McManus, Positively Fifth Street

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.