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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Separating sound strategies from sham systems

5 October 2007

Dear Mark: All over the Internet you find offers of betting systems to beat the casino. You have claimed before that none of these systems are worth the paper they're printed on, and yet, you have also stated that with correct play, certain casino games are beatable. I'm confused? Charles G.

I believe, Charles, that you are confusing bogus betting systems that you come across on the internet with the legitimate strategies I write about, which give the player an edge against the house. For instance, two games that are proven beatable with good rules and proper strategy are video poker and blackjack.

Yep, Charles, there's a whole slew of systems flitting about in cyberspace to beat the house, but if those systems were any good, casino owners would do what it takes in a New York minute so that no lamb could ever slaughter the butcher. It's a gimme that owners of gambling joints don't spend bazillions of dollars to build mega-resorts so that some system player can come in, beat the hell out of the place, and get the keys to the front door.

Penned in this column are strategies like perfect basic strategy in blackjack that give the house a wee edge, or card counting which mathematically is proven to give you, the player, an advantage over the casino. Or my other example, video poker, which can be beaten by searching out the best paytables and then following a proper strategy on which cards to discard and which to hold.

Dear Mark: There was some discussion on an online blackjack forum regarding a blackjack rule that if both the dealer and the player have a 17, the player loses. Have you ever heard of such a rule in blackjack? Jacob A.

Heard of it, yes, seen it, no, and would I play where this rule exists? -- never. On a blackjack game where you lose instead of pushing on a 17, you'd be giving the house an additional 1.87%. Exit stage left laughing if you ever happen upon it.

Dear Mark: On my last gambling excursion I was up against a blackjack dealer that didn't bust once the whole hour she dealt. The dealer who replaced her busted just about every other hand. I'm sure there was nothing funny going on, but I am curious as to what percent of hands a dealer actually busts on. Chip L.

Within your gambling timeline, Chip, of two hours and no more than a couple hundred hands of action, anything can and will happen. But based on computer simulations of millions of rounds of play, the dealer should bust 28.23% of the time.

Dear Mark: Who came up with the slogan for Las Vegas, "What happens here, stays here"? Danielle F.

Two twenty-something copywriters named Jeff Candido and Jason Hoff at the advertising firm of R&R Partners Inc. deserve all the credit for coming up with the catchphrase "What happens here, stays here." Many believe that this tagline was probably the most instrumental boost in revitalizing the Las Vegas economy after 9/11.

Dear Mark: What is the soundest advice that you ever received on betting sports? Eddie P.

Parlay bets, especially those that involve more than two teams, are for suckers, and never bet on a team that you are emotionally attached to. Admittedly, when it comes to betting on my Green Bay Packers, I have a hard time following that second bit of advice.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "To master poker and make it profitable, you must first master patience and discipline, as a lack of either is a sure disaster regardless of all other talents, or lucky streaks." -- Freddie Gasperia

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.