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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Waving the white flag in roulette

1 September 2000

Dear Mark,
I was playing roulette and betting on the outside in a Missouri casino. Double zero hit and I lost my whole bet. I asked why I didn't get half my bet back as I thought was the rule, but the roulette dealer had no idea what I was talking about. Was I wrong or is this just a Missouri rule? Darren D.

The croupier in Missouri would not have known what you're speaking of because only Atlantic City, by law, offers a "surrender" rule on all even-money outside bets on the roulette layout.

Because there are no single-zero wheels in Jersey, all Atlantic City casinos feature double zero wheels that have both 0 and 00. If you bet black or red, 1 to 18 or 19 to 36, or odd or even, and the ball lands on 0 or 00, you only lose one half of your original wager. This is known as the "surrender" rule and it cuts the casino edge in half from 5.26% to 2.63%. The surrender rule only applies to these even-money bets. For all remaining wagers, the casino edge remains a hefty 5.26%.

Dear Mark,
Can you explain why casinos have similar atmospheres? The lighting and sound seem to create a certain ambiance conducive to gambling, or am I imagining this? April F.

Bullseye, April. Most of what you see, feel and hear in a casino is methodically and deliberately arranged to separate you from your money as painlessly as possible.

Dear Mark,
Why is it that certain slot machines never pay off? Dina S.

All slot machines, Dina, consistently pay. They pay the casino's rent, the light bills, and all the employees' salaries. They also pay millions of dollars in profits to casino owners and stockholders. The player just so happens to be on the low end of the food chain.

Dear Mark,
Do you have a favorite video poker pay table (machine) that you like to play? Peter T.

Unfortunately, Peter, you won't encounter my favorite video poker machine in your gaming jurisdiction, Missouri. They are even difficult to find here in Nevada. But when you do, you are playing on one of the best video poker machines available. It is a Jacks or Better machine with a 10/7 pay table. With perfect basic strategy, it returns, over the long haul, 101.94% to the player. Use a slot club card that offers generous cash rebates, and the machine will yield well over 105% against the house.

Dear Mark,
What do you mean by a kicker in video poker? Mavis K.

A kicker is a single card held with a pair. For example 7, 7, A or Q, Q, K are hands in which an extra card (the kicker) is retained.

When playing kitchen table poker, it is OK to hold a kicker in certain scenarios but never in video poker. Kickers add absolutely no value to a video poker hand.

Dear Mark,
Exactly what is crapless craps? Also, is it worth playing? Pete N.

Also known as Never Ever Craps, crapless craps is another example of a casino offering that could cost you dearly if you belly up to a crapless craps table.

In this modified variation of a regular crap game, you can't lose on the come out roll if the shooter tosses a 2, 3 or 12. Instead, it automatically becomes the point, just like the 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 on a standard game. You also don't win if the shooter throws a natural 11. It too becomes the point. With these additional funky rules, the house now holds a 5.4% edge on your pass line bet versus 1.4% on a typical craps game.

Ho-hum games or wagers won't cut it here, Pete. Crapless craps rates a "no play" for Deal Me In readers.

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.