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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Pushovers sit here

12 March 1999

Dear Mark,
It seems to me that in blackjack the less you know the more right your decisions are. When it comes to splitting pairs, doubling, even hitting certain hands, I take a chance and generally go against common wisdom. Therefore, my thoughts are that it isn't worth the extra trouble to learn the correct strategy. Rory B.

Someone once said: "the first rules of holes is when you are in one, stop digging." Rory, You've got one big shovel.

In blackjack, or any casino game for that matter, the less you know the more you should deride the analysis of anyone who has the knowledge and takes the trouble to study the subject from a mathematical perspective. Depending on how you play blackjack, you can gain the designation of professional player all the way down to a "sucker on a stool." Using guesswork, your playing style doesn't put you in the professional category; more like a "dupe in action."

Dear Mark,
Recently on a blackjack game I was ahead by more than $400. The pit boss after a brief introduction comped me a pass to the casino buffet. After eating a so-so meal I came back and proceed to give back all my winnings. In hindsight, isn't the meal offering a way of making me play longer? Buddy C.

Yes, because Nevada Revised Statute176.387 does not allow casinos to use Crazy Glue on casino stools to keep players in bondage until they lose all their winnings.

Seriously, Buddy, free buffets are used by casino management primarily to encourage additional gambling. FREE and FOOD are subtle weapons that give the casinos an added firearm in reclaiming what they believe is still their money. The pit boss is simply treating you to a buffet so you feel obligated to play longer. Long enough so that the buffet will cost you $400.

It is much better to learn to win and walk, not stay and suffer (money loss and abdominal duress).

Dear Mark,
Your columns illustrate a biased position when it comes to playing keno. I enjoy gambling while eating and keno is the only game that affords this. I've always liked the fact that for a dollar you could win $25,000. Why are you so anti keno? Doris F.

Because I'm resentful, invidious and jealous. I was one of those kids who never got a box of 64 Crayolas. Always a used eight pack; one broke, one missing. So any game that you mark with a crayon that carries a house percentage higher than the interest you pay on your Visa card, I'm illiberal about.

Dear Mark,
What does the term "following the shoe" mean in baccarat? Phillip H.

The term simply means whichever side (player or banker) won the last hand, your next bet would be the same. Consequently, if a streak occurs for either side (common in baccarat), you will be riding it for its full duration.

Dear Mark,
My goal when I play craps is to win $1,000 with a $100 buy-in. Do you feel this is impractical? Skip R.

Bellying up to a crap table with $100 and expecting to win $1,000 is, at best, unrealistic. Personally, I believe it's downright wacky. Odds-on you will lose your C-note long before you win a grand.

Skip, you need to set reasonable win goals, like 50% of your original stake, not 1000% on your money. Far too many players keep upping the ante on what they want to win. This columnist recommends having predetermined loss limits and "realistic" win goals.

It takes internal fortitude to take a small win and run. I'm not asking you to quit while you are on an eventful winning streak, but true winners know how to quit when they are ahead. They don't risk it all to achieve too lofty a reward.

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.