Gambling City

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Math Always Favors the Casino

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: I enjoyed your response to Gary R. playing referee on what he considered a misdeal. The dealer had a 17, but took a hit and busted, and still collected his bet. I think you'd agree, not all casinos would have scooped up that wager.

At any rate, my question relates to what should have happened next. That extra card dealt makes the deck out of sequence from when the cards were shuffled. So, does the dealer keep dealing or should he shuffle up? Tom

Well, Tom, my refereeing of Gary’s question was based on the rules at casinos where I have worked. I intentionally kept how I personally would have handled it out of that answer.

But, this week it's time for a disclaimer: When I worked on the inside, 'Yours Truly' did not always make decisions 'According to Hoyle'. I did my best to remain consistent, but I must admit that sometimes I could drift from black and white into gray.

I strongly believed customer service was paramount and borderline decisions should go to the player unless it was illegal or egregious. I always asked myself “do we want to lose a customer for life over a $50 slip-up?” Believe me, I have seen plenty of players have a tizzy over less, cash out, and never come back.

Since the math always favors the casino, showing a bit of generosity, and let the customer keep what technically is not theirs, the house will still end up getting it all back within a hand or two anyway.

As for “what happens next,” had Gary been sitting on a single or double deck game, the dealer should have shuffled up after the incident. Where as, with a shoe or automatic shuffler, you would normally just continue to play.

Dear Mark: I'm from Reno and casinos here have multi-game machines that offer Video Poker, Blackjack, Keno, etc. on one machine. Do these games operate on the same odds as a table game? Andy

Reno, and other gaming jurisdictions use a random number generator for player results on all electronic games. According to Nevada state law, any electronic game that uses representations of cards, dice, keno balls, even a roulette ball spinning round must be based on fair odds. So, to achieve the same odds as a hand dealt game, the game makers use a random number generator for each game in the machine.

Dear Mark: I usually do better at slots when playing during the day. Do you know if there is a particular time of day that it is better for winning at slots than another? Janice

No, Janice, I don't. The odds remain the same regardless of the time of day.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Numbers have souls, and you can’t help but get involved with them in a personal way.” – Paul Auster, The Music of Change (1990)