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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Random is random

6 October 2006

Dear Mark,
You have stated that depending on the maker of the video poker machine, the draw cards are either behind the first five dealt cards, or they are dealt right from the top of a deck. OK then, I'm playing in Michigan, and the video poker machine is made by IGT. So, where do those draw cards come from, right behind, or from the top of a deck? Does it make a difference? Frank D.

The majority of video poker machines in the past operated using parallel dealing. That is where all 10 cards are dealt simultaneously, the point being that your display cards and any draw replacements that may be called for are selected, dealt, and held in a single movement. Today, most machines employ serial dealing. Here, replacement cards are dealt right from the top of the deck — as in a live poker game.

Someone working for IGT in Reno who reads this column in the Reno Gazette Journal will correct me if I'm wrong, but to the best of my knowledge IGT's machines continuously shuffle the remaining 47 cards, and it is not until you press the draw button that you get whatever cards are on top of the deck at that precise moment.

Either/or, Frank, the cards are shuffled and displayed randomly, and neither way would have any effect on the outcome.

Dear Mark,
Who pays the jackpots for progressive machines like Megabucks, the casinos or the slot maker?

Those gigantonormous progressive jackpots on machines like Megabucks, Quartermania, the Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, etc., are paid by the manufacturer of the slot, in this case, IGT. If ever someone's stars do truly align, IGT (the games vendor) would send a representative to authenticate the win, and then pay off the winner. To date, IGT MegaJackpots have created hundreds of millionaires, and they have awarded over $3 billion in major jackpots.

Casinos also have their own proprietary progressive machines, typically with their name and logo on the facing. Although the casino sets the percentage they want returned to them when placing an order with a slot manufacturer, the casino would be responsible for the payout.

By the way, Susie, to grow the progressive, a portion of each bet made funds the winning jackpot.

Dear Mark,
Isn't 9-10-J-Q-K the second-highest straight in pai gow poker and not an ace, 2, 3, 4 and 5? You mentioned it before in a column but I can't remember which one you stated was the higher of these two straights. David D.

When I dipped into the archives, David, I found I had said this then and say it again now.

In pai gow poker, each player is dealt seven cards that he is required to make into a five-card hand (the "high hand") and a two-card hand (the "low hand"). The five-card hand is ranked like traditional poker hands (royal flush, four of a kind, straight flush, three of a kind, flush, straight, two pair, pair and high card) but the game does have a couple of exceptions. Your question happens to call attention to one of them. Only a straight consisting of 10, J, Q, K, A beats an A, 2, 3, 4, 5. A straight of 9, 10, J, Q, K doesn't.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died." -- Steven Wright

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.