Gambling City

We are Cash Back

“I’ll Be Back”

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Recently, a player wrote you that he was frustrated about never winning at slots. Your answer to him was great, but there is something that I think could be adding to his frustration. Gamblers,particularly slot players are often, in my personal opinion, notorious liars about their gambling outcomes. He gave some good examples of winners that sound legit, but what he doesn't know is just how much those people put into those machines before they hit those jackpots. A lot of people who regale you with how much they "won" have a tendency to forget to mention some important facts about that win. For instance, how many hundreds of dollars they put in that machine to get that $100 jackpot. Some just tell outright lies because they are embarrassed about blowing all their money. For example they might say "Oh, I broke about even.” This can make a person hearing all these (at best) half-truths about other peoples' winnings think they are doing something wrong in their play to make them lose. In reality, almost everyone else is in the same boat.
Tom D.

Tom, your e-mail is quite accurate. Most players are famous for overstating their winnings and playing down their losses.

I can't count how many times a player will tell me, “Look, Mark, I’m winning,” and point to their credit meter. That's okay, but when you show me 250 credits on a quarter machine, you are showing me no more than $62.50 worth of credits. And the truth is that they will most likely end up burning through that in a short time. What seems to slip their mind is mentioning they are already into said machine a few Benjamins.

Don't get me wrong,Tom, there are always a handful of winners. Those few winners are quite an important asset to any casino. Casinos can't afford to have all of their clientele leave in a huff. That small percentage of players that do walk away with those big wins tell friends, family, and anyone that will listen about their great good fortune. Then those future players are caught in that 'rags to riches' idea that their own jackpot could be just one pull away.

Tom, the mathematics of the gambling business are always to be believed. The house is going to hold onto a certain percentage of every dollar bet on a slot machine, and then continue to grind more money out of every Joe or Josephine that cycle through the rest of their bankroll.

What I think is going on is that most players confuse winning with what they are feeling, the “possibility” of winning. What keeps the slot player glued to a machine is the possibility, no matter how distant, that they will find that pot of gold at the end of the jackpot rainbow. Reality only raises its ugly head when they finally total out and find they are much lighter in the wallet than when they started. But then, of course, out comes the proverbial, "Oh, I broke about even." Quickly followed by the favorite words a casino loves to hear from that losing player, “I’ll be back!”

Dear Mark: Out of the 50 or so blackjack games offered where I play, a half-dozen hand-shuffled games still exist. I definitely prefer them to the machine shuffled games that are just about everywhere. But, I have always wondered how many times the dealer has to hand shuffle the cards to ensure a random deal.
Danny F.

Well Danny,randomizing a deck of playing cards is certainly what provides the element of chance at blackjack.

The shuffling technique used most often in a casino is called the “riffle” shuffle. The dealer separates the deck into two halves; then uses his thumbs to make a bridge out of the cards which when released fall to the felt interwoven.

According to the Gilbert–Shannon–Reeds model, which provides a probability distribution on shuffle permutations, it is recommended the deck be riffled seven times to be sure the cards are thoroughly randomized.

Danny, shuffling a deck seven times, is what I was taught from day one in the pit. It is also what I have passed on to countless dealers. Seven hundred is the number of times I’ve been told to “Shut up and shuffle.”

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
“In life we must make all due allowance for chance. Chance, in the last resort, is God.” – Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus (1926)