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Best of Mark Pilarski
Two-timing the casino could get you tossed10 August 2007
Dear Mark: On an online video poker forum, it was recommended that just before you hit the draw button, you pull your slot card out of the machine to reduce your recorded winnings. Does this system have any merit? Nate T.
Sounds to me, Nate, like Darth Vader is luring you to the Dark Side.
What you are describing is called "card pulling," where a player pulls the slot card from the reader before hitting the Draw button on a hand that has potential for a big payoff. For instance, you're dealt three jacks, you pull your card, and that potential payoff of a four-of-a-kind won't be recorded. Depending upon the computer system used, this could reduce your recorded wins, making you look less of a winner, which gets you better goodies.
Does it work in some cases? Yes! Is it deceptive play? Yes! Are eye-in-the-sky cameras watching you when you do it? Yes! Can you lose all comp points and privileges if they catch you? Yes! Case in point. I recently sat next to a player who was caught doing this; they confiscated his card, and they told him to skedaddle.
Oh, and one more thing, Nate. Let's not forget that some casinos award comp points on coins going out (wins) rather than coins played (action).
Dear Mark: I always delay hitting the deal button a few seconds after a losing hand, figuring the possibility of the following hand being better. Does the timing between hands have any effect on the outcome? Diana D.
The only thing that affects either the new hand or subsequent hands is the shuffle, which begins immediately after the previous hand is completed. When the first coin is dropped or Bet button pressed, the shuffling stops, and the deck is unchanged until the hand is over. Delaying the pressing the Bet button, inserting your first coin, or hitting the Draw button, has no effect on the hand or any future hands.
There is a school of thought that when you delay time between hands, the future hand should be more random because it allows the deck to be shuffled oodles more, and this, some believe, will break a cold streak.
But random is random, and as the video poker machine is waiting for someone like Diana to deposit a coin or push a play credit button, the RNG algorithm is called into play hundreds of times per second. And those billions and billions of outcomes that map into any set of cards, ensure that each hand and game outcome is completely random, and not an exercise based on synchronicity.
Dear Mark: It's always a pleasure to read your column. You do a great service to us wastrels who hang around casinos, racetracks and other dens of sin.
I just read your excellent advice for Sandra regarding documenting gambling losses to offset winnings. Keeping a log/diary is vital as I learned years ago when I hit a $5,233 Pick 6 at the old Longacres Racetrack in Seattle late in the meet. Up to that time, I had not maintained any records of my wins vs. losses because my winnings were relatively small as were my losses. I realized that there was not time to offset much of the five grand with legit losses in the month left in the meet so I did what your friend did and picked up discarded tickets to boost my loss deduction. Fortunately, a wise old pari-mutuel clerk noticed what I was doing and said, "The IRS isn't dumb enough to not notice the heel prints on those tickets." My point is that gamblers should maintain a log of wins and losses all year long. Don't wait until you hit a large payout to begin keeping records. Mike H.
When you receive sound, intelligent advice from a reader, you just let the reader do the writing. I'm in really good hands with readers like Mike.
Oh yeah, Mike, that word, "wastrel," I love it. One description of a wastrel is an idler, a loafer, which describes me perfectly. In gambling literature though, Horace Liveright, a book publisher of the 1920s, is usually recalled in literary memoirs as "a charming wastrel, a gambler who always saw a winning bet as a chance to raise his stake in whatever game he was losing at."
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Luck is for the whimpering simp at the next table who plays to break even." --John Vorhaus, Killer Poker
Best of Mark Pilarski