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Best of John Grochowski

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A Great Tale of Dirty Coins

18 January 2021

QUESTION: Just trying to keep my sense of humor through a difficult year. Do you know what it reminds me of when there are hand sanitizer dispensers all over the casinos? The old days when slots used coins and I used to carry wipes or damp cloths with me when I played.

The younger ones won't remember this, but money was FILTHY. You'd have a plastic bucket of coins and drop them into a slot to play, then you'd be paid by coins dropping out of the machine into a metal tray at the bottom or on the side.

You'd scoop them out of the tray with your hands and put them in your bucket to play again or to cash out.

After a few rounds of that, your hands were dirty as all get out. I used to carry something to wipe them off between trips to the restroom. Sometimes I'd have those lemon-scented hand wipes. Sometimes I'd carry a plastic back with a damp washcloth or with baby wipes.

It took me a while to catch on. You know what finally convinced me to carry my own wipes? I was playing a dollar slant-top game with a tray on the side. I reached deep into the tray and along with my coins I pulled out cigarette butts. My hand was covered in ash. It was disgusting. After that, I always went prepared.

ANSWER: I had similar experiences, including pulling the handful of ashes and butts out of trays on video poker machines. I was grateful when casinos started to add no-smoking areas, but then irritated when many such areas had lower pay tables than on video poker machines in other parts of the casino.


QUESTION: I have a blackjack basic strategy question. Where I play, all the games are six decks and the dealer hits soft 17. Basic strategy charts say I should double down on soft 13 or 14 when the dealer has a 5 or 6 up, double on soft 15 or 16 against 4, 5 or 6, soft 17 against 3, 4, 5 or 6, soft 18 against 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, and soft 19 against 6.

I get all that. I'll admit I'm queasy about doubling on soft 18 or 19, but if the math says I should, then I'm OK with it.

But what if I'm in a casino that doesn't allow soft doubling, or what if I have more than two cards, like a soft 16 with Ace, 2, 3? Do I hit or stand?

ANSWER: In those cases, you should hit the soft 17s or lower and stand on the soft 18s and 19s.

Many basic strategy charts will indicate this by labeling the hands "Dh" or "Ds." "Dh" means the basic strategy play is to double down if that's permitted, but to hit if it's not. "Ds" means to double of permitted, but stand if not.

With soft 16 or less, you have nothing to lose by hitting. You start with a hand that can't win unless the dealer busts. The worst a bad draw could bring you is another hand you can't win unless the dealer busts.

With soft 17, hitting costs you the chance to push a dealer 17, but it loses to all other dealer standing hands. it's still a hand that wins only if the dealer busts.
But soft 18 could beat a dealer 17, and soft 19 could beat a 17 or 18. So if we can't double when called for on those hands, we stand.
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski