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Best of Mark Pilarski

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The Devil, sometimes missed, is in the details

30 August 2004

Dear Mark,
Just to update your column, when I placed the bet at the Plaza, I had agreed beforehand that if the ball landed on the double zero, it would be declared as a no bet, allowing me to go again. This was better than the Hard Rock agreement as they refused to budge on the double zero. Ashley Revell

Do any of you recognize the name above attached to the e-mail I received this week? It is from Mr. Revell, the British punter who put his entire life's savings of $135,300 on red at the roulette table in Vegas earlier this year. His comments pertained to a column I had written challenging his gambling acumen for choosing roulette when risking his total net worth. I wrote that his choice of wager, a bet on red, broke the most fundamental principle of all of gambling; finding the best bet and conditions. There was no brainy betting when he decided a single spin at a double-zero roulette table is where he'd lay his bold bet. I figured there were plenty of wagers in the casino that offer a better deal than double zero roulette, where the house edge is 5.26% on every bet you place on the table, including betting red.

I STAND CORRECTED. My reply to a question from Danny R. was based on seeing a taped broadcast of the event, running it in slow motion, and clearly seeing the double zero on the wheel. As well, nowhere had I read anything regarding the agreement Mr. Revell had with the Plaza. Missing minutiae will get you every time.

Though Ashley and I could go back and forth on the sanity of someone betting his or her life savings on one spin (this columnist has recommended countless times that you should only bet what you can afford to lose, not everything you own), he did negotiate with the Plaza the appropriate conditions, especially if roulette is where he wanted to put his life savings.

Dear Mark,
If every hand dealt in video poker is random, and the chances of hitting a royal flush is 40,000 to 1, are not the chances of hitting that second consecutive royal 1 in 40,000? Also, do you know if two consecutive royal flushes have ever happened? I came one card away last weekend. Jimmy S.

…and the rest of us mere mortals, Jimmy, are always one card away from our first.

Once hitting your first royal flush, the odds of another on the following hand remain the same, one in 40,000. But, Jimmy, if your question meant what are the odds of hitting two consecutive royals in a row before your first royal appears, that answer is one in 40,000 times multiplied by one in 40,000, or one in 1.6 billion.

When I worked at the Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe in the early '80s, I recollect one graveyard shift us paying off a consecutive royal flush. The kicker was that the player had to invest just five, and not 10 quarters. Reason being, once his jackpot was paid, the casino, on our dime, inserted five of our own quarters to clear the machine and let him play through. This lucky guy came right back with a natural royal flush, again in spades.

Someone from Reno is going to have jog my memory, but I vaguely remember a person hitting three consecutive royals at a Raley's supermarket on Virginia St. about 20 years ago. Drop me a line if you recall any of the details.

Gambling quote of the week: "You can't ever assume that because someone wrote a book on gambling, he must know what he is talking about." 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.