Poker Columns
Saturday, April 19, 2014
open/closeMark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the gambling trenches, working for seven different casinos. He 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.


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Deal Me In: Getting, and betting, sloshed
 

Dear Mark: Enjoyed your most recent column where you talked about comps. One thing you might want to mention to your readers is that when ordering drinks at table games, ask for shelf liquor, otherwise you get your drinks from the well. Where I play, you can order Maker's Mark all night long. Ben G.

What's not to like about Luke Bryan's first #1 hit; Rain Is a Good Thing. Bryan celebrates how rain can affect life by aiding in the growth of corn, which in turn is processed into whiskey, which in turn causes his significant other to become, well, shall we say, a bit high-spirited.

Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey
Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky

Catchy lyrics, yes, but, be it a well drink from a gun, call or top shelf liquor, getting juiced up like the plane's going down while betting your brains out, is, at the very least, fiscally foolish.

Free drinks, aka chip remover, have always been part of the casino ambiance. But in a casino environment, Ben, it facilitates the losing process for the normally sensible gambler. Those enticed by free hooch, who don't sip for pleasure but gulp for effect, can plan on their early demise.

All bets are off on your quality of play, Ben, when influenced by any intoxicating beverage, even if it is Maker's Mark.

Dear Mark: As a senior citizen, and a penny slot player, how much should I be wagering per spin? Mel G.

As a budget-minded gambler, Mel, you have plenty of betting flexibility in the number of lines and number of coins per line you can bet when playing penny slots. Yet be forewarned. Penny slots are big money makers for casinos. They tend to get a lot of play because penny-wise players like you enjoy playing them, but they also tend to have relatively low paybacks.

Being a prudent player, you need to comprehend base denomination. Penny machines should be just that, penny machines. Not a buck a spin when betting ten pennies a line times ten lines. Because many players are betting the max per line, the average bet on these machines has skyrocketed, yet the low paybacks remain the same.

The penny-pinching method I recommend is to bet one coin per line on each line on a penny slot. From that thrifty level of play, if you get hot, bet a little more. When your luck turns south, drop back to one coin per line.

Dear Mark: Besides looking for the best pay tables available, I like to play two video poker games side-by-side at the same time. If the pay tables are the same, and I use the same strategy on both, will the payoff be the same? John H.

Yes, John, but only if we are talking long-term paybacks. But, over your short gambling timeline, which could be just a couple hours, one video poker machine can give while the other takes, even with the same pay tables.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Most people think that poker is a game. It isn't, man. It's work. You have to work at it like anything else and you get payoffs. You can't just sit down and play. I go and think about the players and the game for a while and draw up a game plan. I don't like to play long hours because I'm concentrating and figuring odds all the time. Hell, I work less hours a month than a doctor and I can take vacations any time I want to. This is what I want to do. This is my career." - Anonymous poker player to writer D. M. Hayano 1977

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