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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Split bet placement causes confusion

23 August 2004

Dear Mark,
I have played roulette for over 30 years and know the rules of the game quite well, thank you. Yet, something interesting happened on a recent casino visit that I have never seen before.

Normally I play the same numbers, including splits like the 0 and 00. Because I was sitting at the far end of the table, I properly placed my wager for the 0/00 split on the line between the 2ND and 3RD section of 12. On the first spin, 00 came up and the dealer refused to pay me. The dealer, along with her supervisor, stated they do not take wagers on that line, and that the bet must be placed on the line between the 0 and 00. I have played in many casinos for many years and have never heard of such a thing. Have you? Mary M.

The quick answer is that the next time when distance prevents you from placing a split bet on the 0/00, just ask the dealer to kindly place it there for you. But, Mary, like you, I have never heard of not being able to make a 0/00 split where you positioned it. I was hoping your letter you would have included the name of the casino, or the gaming jurisdiction where you were playing, so I could have followed up further on your question.

A split bet is a two number wager that allows you to cover two numbers with one bet. If either of these two numbers appears, you are paid 17 to one. For example, $10 split between numbers 0 and 00 gets you $180 ($170 plus your original $10) if either 0 or 00 appears.

Since Mary was not within reach to physically split the 0 and 00, as a courtesy most casinos (now we know not all) will accept a split of these two numbers by placing your wager on the line between the Second and Third Dozen Box. But even if the wager where Mary placed it wasn’t permitted, a simple, tactful decision by the pit boss explaining correct bet placement, and then paying her anyway would have been how Yours Truly would have handled it.

By the way, Mary, with 30 years under your belt, I will not challenge your knowledge regarding the rules of the game. I will recommend that you find a casino that offers a European roulette wheel that does not include the 00. Because there are only 37 numbers with the European version compared to 38 on the standard American roulette layout, the true odds of hitting you number are reduced to one in 37, with the house still paying you 35 to one. This reduces the house edge to 2.63% versus 5.36% on a 0/00 table.

Dear Mark,
How do you play this Jacks-or-better video poker hand: A ten, jack and queen of hearts, and a pair of sixes. Am I correct to assume that I keep the three to the royal? Cam R.

It is the correct move, Cam, for the hand you described, however, alter your play and also hold one of the sixes if it were the six of hearts for a four-card flush. You would hold a small pair (2s-10s) in preference to any three cards of a straight flush that did not have royal potential, for instance, the nine, 10 and jack of hearts.

Gambling quote of the week: "I have always felt that one of the most important qualities of a true gambler is the ability to take his losses like a man." Darwin Ortiz, Casino Gambling for the Clueless

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.