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Why no calls

30 June 2006

Dear Mark,
I had an interesting situation happen on a craps table and I would appreciate having your take on it. I had been playing for approximately an hour or so and ran out of chips with the exception of a lone $5 chip in hand, plus what I had on the pass line and its odds. I tossed the $5 chip on the table and yelled out to place the 6 for $25, and was reaching for my wallet for the additional money when the dealer yelled back "No call bets" and shoved the money back my way. As you may well have guessed the 6 came up. Regardless of my ill fortune, my question still remains, is this standard procedure? I will defer to your answer before raising issue with the casino next time I go in. Kregg M.

Before raising Cain, Kregg, you first want to check and see if the craps table you played on states "NO CALL BETS" on the layout. What that sign means is that a player is not allowed to call out a bet without having at least enough chips on the table to cover the bet. The dealer wants to see you've got the cabbage in plain view before he or she will book your wager.

Another reason the No Call Bets rule exists is to prevent confusion as to the amount of your wager. You could have tossed that $5 chip on the layout, pretended to be reaching for more moolah and simultaneously yelling, "place the 6 for a nickel," and a dealer, not visually seeing your meager $5 bet being lobbed in, might interpret "a nickel" as $500.

Because of the frenzied pace on the craps table, dealers do allow a player to make last-second bets when the dice are about to be thrown. For instance, you could toss out a $25 chip and clearly call out, "place the six for $5," and the dealer will say "it's a bet" and return $20 change to the player after the roll. The dealer doesn't even have to actually place the wager in its proper place on the layout for it to constitute a valid bet.

Also, the No Call Bet rule aside, if the dealer is not clear about the intention of someone's play, he or she can and will state "no bet" and push the chips back to the player.

Dear Mark,
I noticed while cleaning an old purse $10 worth of Mega Millions lottery tickets I purchased last year in California (I actually live in Reno). I checked a website and found they were not winners, but I was still wondering how long I had to redeem them had I won anything, and what would happen if no one came forward to claim the big Mega Millions jackpot? Aubrey F.

If a jackpot prize is not claimed within the required time limit, in your case 180 days, each of the participating states in the Mega Millions game gets back all the money they contributed to that jackpot. The 12 states where the game is played, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington, each use unclaimed prizes for different purposes. Your tickets, Aubrey, were purchased in California, so their portion of the unclaimed Mega Millions jackpot prize would go toward public education.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Whether he likes it or not, a man's character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life." —Anthony Holden from the Big Deal

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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.