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Best of Mark Pilarski
Of gaffes, goofs and gains4 October 2004
You had a very interesting column last week. You stated that you have seen your 5-spot appear only four times, and fortuitously you were on it once for $5, and it paid four grand, far more than you have ever spent, or will spend, playing keno. What was worthy of note was the fact that you play keno, especially since it's doesn't, as you preach, have a 2% or less house advantage, and for $5 a ticket no less. Did I read it wrong? By the way, how much do you tip on a win like that? Matt. M.
In spite of keno's terrible odds, which at a minimum offer a house edge of 25%, even I've been known to play an occasional ticket, usually at the counter of a coffee shop while dining on a casino loss leader, the 99-cent breakfast special. Because of keno's leisurely pace, and the appeal of a large return for the minimal investment of a buck (more on this later), yes, I confess, the game can even grab my interest. Besides, my keno coup happened in 1984, while still an amateur combatant against the casino.
Now as to how a certified and decorated cheapskate like me, could be caught
playing a $5 ticket, well, here I was, shoveling down my second 99-cent breakfast,
when a keno angel, circulating through the casino to find players for the next
game, asked if I wanted to play. Well sure, I replied, hastily filling out a
blank keno ticket, handing it and a fin to Miss Keno Runner, who then took my
ticket to the keno counter, where a keno writer accepted my bet and issued my
official ticket that the runner was to bring back to me.
The serendipity lay in the fact that the keno runner assumed that I had wanted to play a $5 five-spot; otherwise, my payoff would have been only $800 for a one-dollar ticket, and four dollars change.
As for the tipping part of your question, although you are not required to tip keno runners, since their service is considered a casino courtesy, it is still customary to tip them, especially if you win. The amount is totally up to you; however, a standard tip should be between 5-10% on any win over $100.
You ask, how much did I tip? Well, considering that the keno runner was the actual, though accidental, cause of my winning an additional $3,200, I graciously gave her half of that part of the win. It still left me with enough ($1,600) to get a season pass at my all-time favorite ski area, Alpine Meadows (Tahoe), new skis, boots, bindings and plenty of $$$ left for plenty of $1 drafts. Nonetheless, Matt, players should realize that if they play keno long enough, it will eventually eat through their bankrolls; however, thanks to dearest Debbie, I am ahead of the casino, and I plan to keep it that way.
A Post Oak Bluff is a bluff from a tight player who tries to make a small bet into a big pot in hopes that the other player has zilch, and will just give up on the pot.
Gambling quote of the week: "Chance, luck, random occurrence — these
are not the stuff of reason." -Neil D. Isaacs, You Bet Your Life
Best of Mark Pilarski