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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Promotional yank can expose your pay envelope

12 April 2013

Dear Mark: Our local casino offers free spins on a slot machine that has a $1,000 jackpot, plus other prizes like free dinners if you cash your paycheck there. Are these free-play machines less likely to hit than a machine that you put money in? Jim K.

The random number generator (RNG) of any slot machine doesn’t give one iota if you are given a free yank of the handle or using your own hard-earned money.

I need, however, to question an element of your inquiry when you stated, "if you cash your paycheck there." My problem, Jim, is that having a wad of cash in a casino makes for a gambling misadventure for those susceptible to that sort of temptation. I’m just thinking out loud here, that’s all.

Dear Mark: I read your article each week in the Detroit Free Press. I was wondering how you could make a single $1 wager on number 22 on a roulette table. All roulette tables that I am familiar with have a minimum $5 or $10 wager for "inside" or "outside" bets. William P.

I mentioned hitting this wager four times, but over a thirty-year period, plus, all four winners were in N. Nevada, where you can still find plenty of roulette games that will let you bet a $1 on the inside. Yes, William, even here in Northern Michigan, it’s $5 on any one number, but only on weekends. Otherwise, an inside bet can be had for $1. It all comes down to competition and foot traffic as to the minimum wager required.

By the way, William, I broke in and learned my craft by racking chips on a 10-cent roulette game in downtown Reno. Players would buy a stack for $2 and try to park their rear ends on the game my entire shift. They still offer a 50¢ game today.

Dear Mark: OK, I get that the best craps bet is the pass line bet, with free odds. But, if I want some more action (besides placing the 6 and 8), should I make some come bets? Stuart G.

Come bets carry the same low house edge as a pass line wager, 1.4 percent.

That said, Stuart, a pass line bet with two come bets is plenty of action on this lively game. What you do not want to do is get so caught up in the game that you start throwing money at a dealer for those high house percentage bets.

Dear Mark: What are your thoughts of picking one number at roulette, then cover that bet multiple ways? For instance, I put a sizable wager on 6 black, but then I would also cover it with chips on red, odd, one of the sections of 12 that black 6 is not in, and a different row. What I am trying to do is hedge my black 6 wager. Does this work? Mark L.

The house has a 5.26 percent advantage on any number, or any outside wager you make, no matter how you structure your bets at roulette. Because you cannot evade the casino’s advantage of plus 5 percent, the more money you wager on those outside bets, over the long run, the more you will lose.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Whether he likes it or not, a man's character is stripped at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life." -— Anthony Holden
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.