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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Strike when they ask

16 April 1999

Dear Mark,
When a pit boss approaches and introduces himself, then asks if there is anything I need, is that an appropriate time to ask for a comp? Danielle, M.

Absolutely. Anytime pit bosses or casino hosts offer you anything, they're not going out of their way to be overly friendly, but your level of action probably warrants some casino perks. Meaning, your cash play deserves a comp, and since they're asking, you should start taking.

Your reply, Danielle, from this moment forward, should be immediate and direct. "As a matter of fact, there is," you should reply. "What are the chances of you comping me a dinner?" Why do you have to be forceful? Because even though most floor personnel have some form of comping authority, you generally have to initiate the request. There are times that you'll find your front-line pit boss can't board you for the night or allow you to go on a champagne and escargot feeding frenzy in their gourmet restaurant, but a buffet or a show room pass is within their limits. If they balk, the standard "Maybe I should take my patronage next door" always seems to work.

Strike when they ask, Danielle, because if your bankroll or bet size spirals downward, the casino's gratuity will probably wane accordingly.

Dear Mark,
I got in a beef with casino management in New Jersey over how rudely I was treated on a blackjack game. Not only did I decided not to play at this casino anymore, but I stopped payment on a $20 check that I had written there. Well, I think it has come back to haunt me because recently when I tried to cash a personal check in Las Vegas, the cashier refused. What's the big deal? It was only $20. Anonymous

The "big deal," at least in the casino industry's eyes, is that you stiffed them. And the penalty for your ingenuous act? Blackballing you from cashing checks in most casinos nationwide. When you tried to cash that check in Las Vegas, the cashier most likely ran you through Central Credit-the TRW of the gaming industry. Bingo, you came up hot. A little disagreement and $20 later, you're an undesirable-according to a computer of course.

Solution-that is if you want to cash checks in a casino again-is to pay off the check, include a graceful apology, then, with knee pads on, appeal to the cage manager to get your indiscretion taken off Central Credit's computers. Still peeved and won't give in? You could always cash checks for $10 or less. Though casinos are required to comply with federal laws on credit approvals, some get around that by issuing credit for $10 or less without a Central Credit check. No, it's not the appropriate way to handle your predicament, but then, I believe in betting only what you can afford to lose and avoid check cashing, and casino credit, altogether.

Dear Mark,
Why is it that when so many dealers get halfway through the deck, they shuffle up? It really slows down the game. David V.

Because management has egg-shell nerves when it comes to players using their brains-card counters. This fallacious behavior is unjustified and to casino executives whose belief is that their quarterly reports are in jeopardy by cerebral thinkers I offer a personal challenge: Conduct time and motion studies of your blackjack games. What the stewards of gambling will find out is that blackjack becomes more profitable for the casino when the dealer's shuffle points are deeper. By allowing additional deck penetration, the dealers will pitch more hands per hour and the action will more than make up for an occasional loss by a card sharpie. Besides, they employ pit bulls to run off the counters anyway.

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.