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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Slots at 35,000 feet?

23 April 1999

Dear Mark,
Any truth to the rumor that I will be able to gamble on a flight from Cleveland to Las Vegas? Laurie H.

You mean wager that your flight will arrive on time? Take the six-to-five against.

No, Laurie, you won't see the captain turning off the no-betting signs in preparation for your landing. Though some airlines have gambling systems tested and ready to go, don't expect to lose more than your luggage on your next flight. A friendly wager in the sky only applies to international flights-not flights that take off or land in the United States. The 1994 Gorton Amendment bans gambling on flights by an international carrier that begins or ends in this country.

Laurie, I just cannot foresee even lobbied politicians of unsound mind allowing holiday travelers to arrive at their vacation destination pauperized.

Dear Mark,
Twice in past columns you have stated unequivocally that casinos do not cheat customers. You also mentioned the possibility of a rogue dealer affecting my chances of winning. Could you please give me an example of something a dishonest dealer could do to change the odds in the casino's favor? Billy T.

An example would be of an unscrupulous dealer who preferential shuffles. Here a dealer is counting the deck down (card counting) and is aware of all the cards that have been dealt. If a lot of high cards have been previously pitched, meaning the deck is now rich in small cards, creating an apparent disadvantage for the player, the rogue dealer keeps dealing. On the other hand, if many small cards have surfaced, allowing a positive expectation for the player, the dealer would shuffle.

By card counting, the unethical dealer now has total control over any favorable situation the player might have had.

Dear Mark,
Nothing irks me more than when two pit bosses in the same casino interpret the rules differently. I had a pit boss allow me to replay my hand (I didn't signal a hit and the dealer hit me anyway for a bust). Another pit boss instructed the dealer to take my wife's money on an identical error one hour later. Don't they play from the same rule book? David M.

Floormen, a.k.a. dealing referees, at times render contrary decisions. Calling a particular play differently ultimately confuses casino clientele. You, and yes, even the dealer, have a very legitimate gripe against management on inconsistent calls.

Casinos where customer service prevails always side with the player unless the mistake is illegal or egregious. Why lose a customer for life over a $10 error? They realize the math is always on the side of the casino.

Funny how it works, David. When the house lets you keep your mistake, they always seem to get it back on the next hand.

Dear Mark,
There is a company in Europe selling devices that electronically jackpot slot machines. Is this legal in Nevada? What is the penalty for using it? Robert L.

Why waste your money, Robert? Try this instead. Hoist a sledgehammer in the air, angle it at 45 degrees, then bring it crashing down on the polished glass face of the paytable. That should trigger the hopper to release the coins. Either way, the penalty is the same. A ward of the state, AKA, PRISON! Good behavior should get you out in five.

Dear Mark,
Is there a specific time when a gambler should get up and walk away from a table when winning? Wayne D.

The two hardest times to leave a casino are when you're ahead or when you're behind. That, Wayne, is why all gamblers should set loss limits and win goals. Though your question lacked precise information, like how much you bet, how long, which games, where, etc., setting specific win goals such as doubling your money, AND STICKING TO THEM, is the correct money management strategy when it comes to bidding your farewells.

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.