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Best of Mark Pilarski

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The correct spelling is A L B U Q U E R Q U E

7 May 1999

Dear Mark,
This is not exactly a casino gambling question but an inquiry regarding bar betting strategies. Why is it that I am always buying free drinks? It does not matter if it's trivia or a magic trick, I am always duped into paying. Help! James S.

Every tavern I have patronized has at least five bar-stool regulars who can spell Albuquerque. In the real world no one can spell it.

You won't be a patsy for free drinks if you heed this classic warning from Damon Runyon: "Son, no matter how far you travel, or how smart you get, always remember this: someday, somewhere, a guy is going to come up to you and show you a nice brand-new deck of cards on which the seal has not been broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that the jack of spades will jump out of this deck and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not bet him, for as sure as you do, you are going to get an ear full of cider."

Dear Mark,
Are not the rules better for roulette in Atlantic City than in Las Vegas? Jay G.

Only on one wager, Jay. When you make an even-money bet (red/black, odd/even, 1-18/9-36) in Atlantic City, you lose only half your wager if the roulette ball lands on 0 or 00. These outside wagers cut the house edge down from 5.26 to 2.63%.

Keep in mind, Jay, that this advantage is only in effect for even-money bets. For even better value, Las Vegas offers single zero roulette tables at numerous casinos. A single zero game will give the casino only a 2.7% edge on all roulette bets.

Dear Mark,
I have only been to the casinos three times but have come home a winner on each occasion. I operate strictly by a "feel" for certain machines. Ever hear of consistent winners that base their skill on "feelings"? Dusty R.

I am willing to wager dollars to donuts that I can prove with 100% certainty that you do not possess such an ability. I bet you want me to prove it. Well, Bob, if you answer my question, "Yes, I go to work every Monday morning," then you don't have such skills.

Dear Mark,
Thank you for the advice on playing the single-zero roulette game at the Monte Carlo. My wife broke even and I actually won $200. I do have a question regarding the single zero game. Is the game I played at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas an exact duplicate in rules as a roulette table at the real Monte Carlo in Europe? Paul L.

Not quite, Paul. A true European single-zero wheel offers a rule called "en prison." If you make an even money bet and the ball lands on zero, the croupier doesn't rake in your wager. Instead, your bet is "imprisoned" or held hostage, and you are forced to let it ride until the next spin. If your bet wins, you can remove it from the table. What is exciting about this wager is that it cuts the house edge on even money bets in half, down to a very respectable 1.35%. This makes it one of the better bets in European casinos.

Dear Mark,
Is there ever a time when you would double down for less in blackjack? Sal G.

Never is the correct answer. Because you only double down when you are more likely to win the hand than lose, you always want to wager the maximum amount. It is the double downs and blackjacks that take your blackjack play from the red to the black. Don't shortchange yourself in these situations.

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.