Gambling City

We are Cash Back

Either Way, it’s Still a Random Draw

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Are the cards behind the initial five shown already in place behind each shown card, or are they dealt off the top of a deck? For example, the cards are shown in this order; 4 - 5 - 5- 6- 7. Does it matter which five you hold or throw away trying for the straight? Frank. K.

Back in the day, Frank, most video poker machines operated using parallel dealing. Then, you were dealt all 10 cards at the same time. Your display cards and any draw replacements were all selected in advance. Today, most machines employ serial dealing, where substitute cards are dealt right from the top of the deck.

As for those remaining 47 cards, they are constantly being shuffled, and it is not until you push the draw button that you get whatever card(s) are on top of the deck at that exact moment. Since the draw is arbitrary from an uninterrupted deck, it doesn’t matter which five you hold or discard in video poker.

Because all cards are shuffled and displayed randomly, be it all ten cards predetermined in advance or the draw cards dealt from the top of the deck, it would have no consequence on your outcome.

So, why the switch-a-roo?

Well, an IGT tech once told me that when all 10 cards were dealt at once, the random number generator could be vulnerable to a whiz who tracks progressions and that he or she could enter the cards dealt and drawn into a computer program, possibly determining what the future draw cards may be.

One thing that I learned early and repeatedly in this business is that the casino industry is known for overactive game protection.

Dear Mark: You say that you should hit 6’s versus a 2, however, I was looking at Wizard of Odds website and his calculator shows to split for every strategy change. I had an discussion about this with someone in a casino who also told me that one of her charts said to hit even though I had never seen that before. David P.

First, and foremost, I am not one to challenge the Wizard of Odds. Usually, I rely on Sister Cyrilla’s sixth grade math class, where I first learned about, and became enamored of, percentages. Therefore, David, I do not purport to be a math whiz. Michael Shackleford, on the other hand, IS the Wizard of Odds.

When it comes to any of these blackjack game strategy cards, they are formulated on the mathematical probabilities of the game, and provide you advice on the best decisions to make with every conceivable situation during each hand. Nevertheless, not all strategy cards are created equal.

Regarding your question, more than 50% of the 40 different blackjack strategy cards I possess conclude that you should hit those 6’s against a deuce, and not split on a multi-deck game. Of that, almost half advised splitting, some of those recommended that you only split 6's on a single deck blackjack game, which I did mention in said column.

Because the difference between splitting and just hitting will have little effect on your overall return during your personal gambling timeline, I recommend playing it as you like, not necessarily as Yours Truly or anyone else advises.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: Every conscious act requires risk. Every conscious act requires decision. Put these two facts together and you realize that the secret to life is not to avoid gambling, but to gamble well. – Mike Caro, Mike Caro on Gambling (1984)