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The name is Bond, James Bond

25 June 1999

Dear Mark,
You answered a question by stating that the most popular number played on a roulette wheel was 17 and reasoned that this was so because it was located in the center of the layout and everyone could reach it. I guess my point is that it is likely that other factors add to the "appeal" of 17 for the masses. I suggest that its popularity is based somewhat on the James Bond films where he bets "17 Black." Just a hunch, but I know many players who bet this way. Jimmy H.

Correct you are, Jimmy. Bond did enjoy both baccarat and roulette as a way to relax and unwind after saving the world. And yes, players drinking martinis, shaken not stirred, tend to follow his pattern of play.
Besides birthday and anniversary dates, many players choose numbers used in the movies, from record LPs (the Beatles; number 9, number 9, number 9), even after a player's favorite athlete. Popular in northern Nevada when I dealt the game was 16 Red, Joe Montana's jersey number and color.
Getting back to Her Majesty's favorite secret agent: The most popular number in the movies is not 17, even if it was a favorite of Ian Fleming's Bond, but 22. You'll see it played at pivotal points in "Casablanca," "The Sting" and "Lost in America."

Also of little note, 22, my personal favorite, was the first number called at Bill's Casino at South Lake Tahoe when it officially opened on July 1, 1987 at 7:01 p.m. And who (brag mode ON) called that first number? Yours truly (brag mode OFF). One player had a $25 chip on it and won $875.

Dear Mark,
I am having a minor dispute with a friend about 'jack's or better' five card draw.
Is there usually (obviously house rules vary from place to place, but in general) a requirement to prove you have a pair of jacks or better to open? When I learned this game, there was no such requirement and you could actually bluff the open. My friend now tells me that this is not the case and penalties like matching the pot are usually imposed if the opener does bluff. What is your experience on this issue? John K.

When I was growing up, John, if I misplayed a hand in pinochle, fraudulently or not, the chastening was not only getting the heave-ho from the game but castigated for piss-poor play and an additional penalty of washing all the dishes. This is how I learned that honesty prevails in card play. But I'm writing about a friendly, or in my case, a hostile game environment at the kitchen table where local rules apply.

In casino poker rooms, they don't offer a jack's or better game for one simple reason. SHOW ME THE MONEY! Casinos can't pay the lighting bills on the many dead hands that a Jack's or better game would create. You can't 'rake' a pot that isn't there. The rake, the money that the card room charges, is usually a percentage or flat fee taken from the pot after each round of betting. Every time a dealer pitches out a hand, your miserly casino owner wants a piece of the action.
As for home rules, I've heard of everything from matching the pot to forfeiting the hand, and in a worst case senerio, the bucking up for all the booze and burgers.
So in the future, John, let whoever is gracious enough to let you spill beer and chip dip all over their carpet make the rules of the house.

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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.