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Best of Mark Pilarski

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The push: The bet you win from yourself

7 December 2012

Dear Mark: When playing Double Double Bonus Poker, playing the max bet for five coins, I can get a pair of Jacks or Better for a payout of five coins. How can this be considered a win when the machine takes five coins at the beginning of the bet? Isn't this considered a push? Bob C.

Hey, Bob, you have overlooked something. With Double Double Bonus Poker, it’s not only a push for a pair of Jacks or Better, but the payout for two pairs is also a draw.

So let’s talk push, or as first stated in 1953 by Navy football coach Eddie Erdelatz after a scoreless tie against Duke, “kissing your sister.”

A push is, in essence, a tie bet, where the player has neither won, nor lost, their initial stake. Your credits remain the same as if there was no wager made. In spite of that, one of the reasons video poker is so popular, is that it returns your investment for a pair of Jacks or Better.

With your high pair scenario, I have always felt that this erroneous impression of winning is one of the most powerful false hope methods the casino has against the player.

So, Bob, let’s be clear. Never consider a push a win. The psychological boost of returned coins from a push has at best, dubious momentary value. All it does is make you feel like a winner, when in actuality, it won’t fatten your wallet an onion skin.

Sure, some could argue that pushes keep you in the game, but I see it as a hamster wheel of futility since the casino’s built in edge will eventually lighten your billfold anyway.

Treat those even-money payoffs NOT as a payday against the house, but that of YOU, just getting YOUR, hard-earned money back.

Dear Mark: Thanks for mentioning one of the best places to play blackjack in Vegas these days, the El Cortez. In two hours, I beat them out of $800 with a $50 buy-in, plus, I was comped to the steak house. I love this place. Mike A.

Alistair Cooke once said, "Las Vegas is Everyman's cut-rate Babylon." The problem with that aged quote, Mike, is that there is little that is "cut rate" about Vegas anymore.

As I mentioned in the column you cited, The El Cortez is a rare exception, a casino that still offers a favorable, player friendly, single-deck blackjack games with a house edge on this game at 0.18 percent. However, Mike, there is more to be had on your next trip to this joint that has been operating from their same Fremont Street location since 1941.

Cue in what I consider the best all-inclusive guide of casinos nationwide, and that is Steve Bourie’s American Casino Guide. Updated yearly, the 2013 American Casino Guide indexes every casino/resort in the U.S., plus all the toll-free phone numbers, websites and e-mail addresses, a whole slew of gambling tips, techniques and winning strategies, and comprehensive list of room rates, buffet prices and detailed maps. The guide also offers you more than $1,000 in valuable casino coupons within its 500 pages. The El Cortez has three keepers. Try a two-night stay for $30, $10 free slot play, and 50 percent off at the Flame Steakhouse, which is a real hidden gem in Vegas. I can only recommend what I always order: The Chilean sea bass, the Florida Stone Crab, their crab cakes and the French onion soup.

You can get the 2013 American Casino Guide at all major bookstores, on Amazon, or check out Bourie’s website: americancasinoguide.com. The $18.95 cost will pay for itself with just one trip to the Flame. (Editor's Note: Casino City offers the American Casino Guide at the discounted price of $11.75. Click here for more details.)

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I have known clergymen, good men, kind-hearted, liberal, sincere, and all that, who did not know the meaning of a 'flush.' It is enough to make one ashamed of the species." -- Mark Twain
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.