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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Yankless, coinless, clueless, staffless, tipless, hapless. Is playerless a-comin'?

8 September 2003

Dear Mark,
Why are so many slots today being converted to coinless machines? Are you a fan of them? Beth R.

No aficionado in these shoes, Beth. I treasure the clanking sound of coins falling into the tray. I wonder about the rationale behind the switch to coinless machines. Casino operators of my acquaintance have long understood the value of "the sounds of winning," so much so that they install "loud drop bowls," those metal trays that catch the slugs in a payoff and give clangorous voice to someone's good fortune.

The song of these deeper pans implies that people are winning big. Hmmm... well, personally, the fun factor of yanking a handle and the happy-finger scooping up of the loot somehow tends to obscure its meagerness. Today, approximately 20% of the 700,000 plus slots in North America are now coinless. Casinos' marketeers claim players want the coinless machines because they are weary of waiting for slot personnel to pay off their jackpots. They also reckon standing in the cashier's line with 30 pounds of winnings in a cup ain't any fun. Yeah, right. ...still, many of us find it downright blissful to have that problem.

In actuality, the backroom guys with the green eyeshades point out that casinos are cashing in big-time on the cashless machines. They reduce the labor bill to repair the jam-ups, fill hoppers, empty the machines of coins and bring them to the count room, and to count the players' winnings at the cashier¹s cage. In addition to the resultant higher slot machine uptime, these coinless electronic marvels can keep track of how much money is in play at any time.

And feel, like I do, for the cocktail waitress, Beth, exiled to the Nickel Hell section of the casino. Dollars to donuts her tips are down, with no nickels clattering into the tray. Definitely another column for another day.

Dear Mark,
While watching either the World Poker Tour or the World Series of Poker, on the screen they identify each player's chances of winning after they receive their first two cards. Do you know what software they use to figure those percentages out? I figure something like that would help my play. John H.

Specifically, what software do they use...? Haven't a clue. But, John, there is one slick program, Pokalyzer, they could be using, as could anyone with a home PC using Windows, to figure out those same percentages. Pokalyzer allows you to derive the exact odds for any Hold'em situation. You simply input up to 10 players' Hold'em starting hands (optionally, flop and turn cards can also be added), and out come the exact odds for each player. You specify the cards, John, and the Pokalyzer analyzes all possible remaining board card combinations for the true mathematical odds. Also, by using the Heads Up Analysis feature, you can see how any two cards perform against all other two-card combinations.

Other options are the "Hand Hits" analysis, showing which cards make which hands and how often; and the "Pokalyzer Quiz," a randomly generated poker quiz that will continually test your (improving) knowledge. Because it is randomly generated, no two quizzes are ever the same.

"Pokalyzer" retails for $29.95 and is worth every penny of it. Their website is: http://www.any2cards.com. (No, I'm not on their payroll, don't even know anyone there. Maybe I should.)

Hope to see you, John, a cum laude graduate from using this program, at the final table.

Gambling quote of the week: "The only decent people I ever saw at the racecourse were the horses." --James Joyce

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.