LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- January 24, 2001-- In this Newsletter I report on:

by Guest Columnist Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark,
Why, when dealers leave the blackjack table, do they always clap their hands?

Chris A.
Glendale, CA

Casino mythology holds that there is a touch of larceny in all dealers.
We clap (clear) our hands to prove we are not pilfering chips.
Even now, years after my dealing gig, I am still haunted by the suspicion of theft.
Every time I pick up an item in a store and put it back,
I still "clear" my hands to show I am not shoplifting.

Dear Mark,
How many trips to a casino does it take the average person to hit a royal flush?
I ask because I seldom see them.

Shannon R.
Omaha, NE

The frequency of a royal flush is once every 40,000 hands. For that, you will need to play
video poker at a pace of four hands a minute, nonstop for seven days before you hit a royal flush.
But there¹s no guarantee; we¹re talking probabilities here, not certainties.

Dear Mark,
What do the four suits in a card deck represent?

Morgan P.

They symbolize the medieval classes of man.
Diamonds­the wealthy merchant class.

Dear Mark,
How can the casino afford to give away a $2.99 steak dinner?
Tom C.

Because they plan on you losing $20.99 gambling before you leave.

Dear Mark,
Recently, I went to a casino and played some $5 blackjack. I sat at third base
at a full table, and played basic strategy to the letter. A couple of the other players
started giving me loads of heat, constantly complaining and abusing me about my "poor" play.

Joe H.
Oklahoma City, OK

Hey, Joe, it's your money, not theirs, so play your hand any way you want.
I learned long ago that when it comes to gambling, you will never open a mind
that is firmly closed to protect its own ignorance.

One of the biggest fallacies in all gambling is that your play affects the overall outcome of all hands dealt. Not
true! Each card comes out of the deck randomly and since no one, not you, the dealer, fellow players, and
especially not the jerks who insulted you, have any idea what the next card will be, your play will have no
repercussion on the game generally.

Pinhead play allows the casino a 4-5% edge over the nincompoop players, like the loud-mouths you had on
your game. Because blackjack is a casino game that allows players to make playing decisions, smart play will
affect the health of your bankroll over the long haul.

Stick with perfect basic strategy, Joe. You are reducing the casino¹s edge to well under 1%, making blackjack a
terrific wagering base providing some of the best player bets in the casino.

Dear Mark,
What do you think of the continuous shufflers at the blackjack tables, where after the second hand
is dealt they replace the discards from the first hand back in the shoe to reshuffle with cards ready
to be dealt. Who has the advantage, the player or the club?

Ray L.
West Bloomfield, MI

Automatic shufflers invariably favor the house because more hands are dealt per hour when the dealer does not
have to stop and shuffle the cards. From the casino¹s perspective, time is money. The more hands per hour,
the better for the house. From a player¹s perspective (your perspective) speed kills in a casino environment.
The longer you are exposed to the house advantage, the more havoc on your bankroll.

For example, take a $25 minimum blackjack table with five players, each player averaging about 70
dealer-shuffled hands per hour. If every player were to stick with the minimum wager of $25, each would be
risking $1,750 per hour. If the dealer is squared off against your average Joe, the house edge could be as
high as five percent. The dealer could poach on Joe¹s wallet for as much as $87.50 per hour.

With automatic shufflers introduced, this same table will force players to average 90 hands per hour, and our $25
bettors now each risk $2,250 per hour. Each player¹s expected hourly loss could rise to $112.50. Even strong
basic strategy players, playing against a paltry house edge of .05%, will also take a greater hit as the game
speeds up. Their expected hourly loss will go from $8.75 to $11.25.

Dear Mark,
I am going to Vegas for the first time, and I need to know  what the different color chips are worth.
I have never played before.

Rick H.
Toledo, OH

There are some slight differences from casino to casino, but the normal colors of casino chips are as follows:
red for $5, green for $25, and black for $100. These colors usually match the table limit signs. A red placard
implies there is a $5 minimum bet at the table, green a $25 minimum, and a black placard indicates...wait a
second, you stated in your question you were a first time player. As a newbie, you better not be gambling on a
$100 minimum game or a $25 one either.

Dear Mark,
I would like to ask you why the casinos always
recommend that players use their slot club cards.
What advantage would it be to them for you to use the cards.
I've heard all kinds of crazy sounding stories from people on why not to use them,
but what do the casinos get out of me using them when I play?

Phillip S.
Hamilton, AL

The primary purpose of slot club cards from the casino¹s point of view is to develop customer loyalty.
The card is intended to generate a sort of tribal attachment with concomitant incentives and retention initiatives.
The casino figures that if they give away enough goodies, you will come back again, and again,
spending your disposable income only or primarily in their casino.

Gambling thought of the week:
"If you bet on a horse, that's gambling.
If you bet you can make five spades, that's entertainment.
If you bet General Motors shares will go up three points, that's business.
See the difference?"

Blackie Sherrod,
Dallas sportswriter.

The free Viva Las Vegas Information List e-mails to you
late breaking news and more detailed information in
addition to the above Newsletter. You will get, on
average, two e-mails per week.

To join the free, e-mail based "Viva Las Vegas
Information List" just send an e-mail to:
If you require something in the subject or body of  your
e-mail put "join".
On acceptance you will receive a confirmation e-mail
from "", return it, and you will be a member
of the List!

Privacy Policy
. .