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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Those itsy-bitsy advantages still count

1 July 2005

Dear Mark, I know to hold any combination of three cards leading to a royal flush in Jacks or Better. Does the same hold true in Deuces Wild with a deuce and two other high cards leading to a royal flush? Also, should you hold three cards leading to a straight flush in Jacks or Better such as a 6-8-9 of one suit? Mike

Yes, Mike, your deuce with two cards to a royal is a slightly better hand than if you were to discard the two high cards and just hold the deuce. Other keepers when holding a deuce would be a deuce with a two-card straight flush (e.g. a deuce, 5 and 6 of hearts), and a straight flush with either a single or double inside draw (like: deuce, 5, 7, 9 of hearts, or deuce, 4, 5, and 7 of hearts).

As to your second question, holding a 3-card straight flush in Jacks or Better, the answer is yes, even if the other two cards form a two-card royal. But note that the expected additional value (based on the average value of all attainable wins after the discards are replaced, assuming that the optimum cards are retained) is minuscule. Additionally, Mike, in your opening sentence you wrote; "I know to hold any combination of three cards leading to a royal flush in Jacks or Better." Actually, though ever so slight, the expected value of a high pair is a little better than that of a three-card royal.

Dear Mark, In your discussions with Joey S. in a recent column, you gave his examples of betting $200 initially on a hand, and then when going down for double, turning the card over and putting down another $200. My question here is: Can the player betting, for example $200 initially, lay only $100 on the double down? Can it be $25, $50, or even $175 if that is all he has left? E. W. T.

When you're dealt a pair of favorable cards, normally a 9, 10, or an 11, the casino gives you the opportunity to double the amount of your wager. The only disadvantage to doubling is that you are only allowed to draw one additional card. The strategic reason for doubling down is that you are more likely to win the hand than to lose, and, having this advantage, you should always wager the maximum amount possible.

But if you happen to be light in the pocketbook, yes, you may double for less than your original bet. When the rules permit doubling, you may double your bet by any amount, up to, but never more than, the original wager.

Dear Mark, Is a croupier and a dealer one and the same? Justin G.

Yes, Justin, today we use the word croupier — borrowed from the French — to describe the casino dealer, though its true meaning in French, is literally one who rides the rump of a horse.

You generally only hear croupier used in the games of baccarat and roulette, not the other table games like craps or blackjack. The croupier on a roulette table sells you chips, spins the wheel and pays those lucky winners who buck the 5.26% casino advantage. In baccarat a croupier controls the dealing, drawing and calling of cards, and pays off winning bets. It's much better to make the acquaintance of a croupier on a baccarat table, as the house edge on two of the three bets offered is well under 2%.

Gambling quote of the week: "The restaurants, the themes, the nightclubs, the eternal ringing of slot machines, the endless hordes of people having fun, and that wild sense of freedom that comes with walking along the strip at night. It's a blast!" — Adam Fine

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.