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Split pots and other mysteries

1 June 2004

Dear Mark,
Is there such a thing as a split pot in Texas Hold'em? For example, if the up-cards are 2-3-8 jack and king, I have a king and an ace, with my opponent having the king and queen, do I win the pot with a pair of kings with an ace high? I believe I do but my friends say I don't. Who's right? Robert B.

A split pot is a pot in which two or more players have hands of equal value, and, therefore, split the money in the pot. Texas Hold'em uses exposed communal cards in the center of the table which combined with the two hidden cards in each player's hand are used to form the best poker hand. As you have phrased the question, you would have won the pot outright with your pair of kings, ace high. But, Robert, card suits also come into play, and you failed to mention the suits of any of the cards in your inquiry. Had the communal cards all been of the same suit, while your king/ace and your opponent's king/queen had been of a different suit, then the pot would be split since you both would share a flush, any five cards of the same suit, with the 2-3-8 jack and king.

Dear Mark,
Both my brother and I play at the same casino and the same games (video poker and slots). We both of us use our players' club card every time we play. We like the comps we get when we use our cards. What's confusing is that the mailings he gets from the casino include more and superior coupons than what I get in the mail. I am curious as to why they treat my older brother better. Randy B.

I'm with you, Randy — being the second-born sucks. It starts with second-hand ice skates and never stops.

Some casino rewards programs today go far beyond tracking coins in or total win. They enable casino personnel not only to track what players are spending, but to chart what they potentially could be inserting in their slot machines. This super-spy info lets them create parameters for their marketing efforts so as to get more mileage out of their comps.

What makes your older brother special is that he is spending more money in the casino than you are (possibly playing higher denomination machines) and they figure by slathering him over with more goodies, they'll trigger his coin deposit gland whenever he's in view of their slot machines.

Dear Mark,
You mentioned that casinos always win in the long run, but not why. So, why do they? Shelly D.

Casinos make money on their games because of the mathematics behind the games. The house has a well-calculated advantage on each and every bet wagered. If they didn't have this edge working in their favor, we'd all have to find a different form of adult entertainment because casinos wouldn't exist. With these percentages working in their favor, a casino is always guaranteed to win in the long run.

No one better described this than the fictional casino boss, Gronevelt, in Mario Puzo's famous novel, Fools Die, when he pragmatically stated: "Percentages never lie. We built all these hotels on percentages. We stay rich on the percentage. You can lose faith in everything, religion and God, women and love, good and evil, war and peace. You name it. But the percentage will always stand fast."

Gambling quote of the week: "The biggest and first crap game is mentioned in Greek mythology. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades rolled dice for shares of the Universe. Poseidon won the Oceans. Hades won the Underworld. Zeus won the Heavens and is suspected of having used loaded dice." —Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas (1976)

Split pots and other mysteries is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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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.