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Reader Questions Where Lucky Machine Went

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: I had the good fortune not long ago, of hitting a sizable jackpot on a slot machine. It took more than an hour to be paid, plus, they opened the machine, not once, but twice. Here is the amusing part. I returned the following month, and that particular machine was gone. Do you think it was because of my jackpot the machine was removed? N.S.

Even though, Nate, you did not indicate your jackpot’s size, when the win is over a specified amount, it is commonplace for a casino to verify sizable winnings. To make sure the chips within have not been meddled with, the casino will run numerous tests to ensure that there is nothing illegal going on. Those tests are required because of a statutory ruling where you play or it is the casino's operating procedure.

I do not believe, Nate, that the disappearance of your machine is related specifically to your win. All Slot managers place their machines strategically to maximize customer appeal and potential casino earnings. One of their variables is that each machine is required to produce its weight in gold to hold its spot in the slot placement. Under-achievers that do not preserve the profits the casino is looking for are either repositioned, or simply removed. Sure, Nate, your slot machine paid handsomely, but every slot machine eventually pays its top-end jackpot. You just happened to be that lucky person who was sitting front-and-center when it did.

Dear Mark: I do not recall if you have answered this question before, but is the player in a better position when the dealer hits soft 17 or the dealer stands on all 17’s? M.R.

A "soft" hand indicates that a player or dealer cannot go bust by taking an added card; otherwise, the hand is "hard.” For instance: An Ace, 6 is a soft 17. An Ace, 6 and 10 is a hard 17 since now the Ace must be counted as a one.

As a player, you are more fortunate when the dealer stands on all 17s. When the rules grant the dealer to hit soft 17, he or she has a chance to upgrade a so-so hand, in addition, they can't bust with their next hit. When the rules allow the dealer to hit a soft 17, you are giving the house an additional two-tenths of one percent edge over your play.

Here’s the deal, Matt. When the dealer gets that additional hit on a soft 17, eight of every 13 cards (Ace, 2, 3, 4, 10, Jack, Queen or King) will either improve the dealer's hand, or keep it the same.

Additionally, if any of the other five cards are drawn (5, 6, 7, 8, or 9) the dealer may still have a chance to increase his or her hand-value with another draw. My suggestion, Matt, is to search for a game in which the dealer stands on a soft 17. Most casinos will indicate directly on the table layout whether the dealer stands on all 17s, or must hit a soft 17 and stand on hard 17 or better.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: God not only plays dice, he also sometimes throws the dice where they cannot be seen. – Stephen Hawking, Nature (vol. 257)