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# Improbable odds here, there, everywhere

27 September 2004

Dear Mark,
In one of your most recent columns, you spoke of someone who possibly might have hit three royal flushes in a row. What you didn't mention was what the odds were of such an feat happening. Also, wouldn't some of the long shot keno tickets be just as tough to hit as three royals in a row? Frank L.

Oops, an omission on my part, Frank. Sorry. The odds of hitting three royals in a row are 32.8 trillion to 1.

As to comparing three consecutive royals to a long shot keno ticket, it would depend on how many numbers you are trying to hit solid. Take for example a 15-spot. Chances of hitting this critter are approximately 428 billion to one. Though easier to hit than three consecutive royals, to my knowledge nobody has ever hit a 15-spot, ever, ever, ever. Then, Frank, there's a beauty they call a "Special Bonus" ticket, where you try to hit 19 out of 20. Try the improbable odds of 2 quadrillion, 946 trillion, 096 billion, and 780 million to one. If you were to play this ticket every second, of every day, according to those fun laws of probability, you will catch 19 out of 20 once every 93,420,116 years. How's the longevity in your family, Frank?

Just this past week an Old School 38-year veteran of the keno wars, Art Simpson, stopped by for a quick visit on his way to a Marine reunion. Art worked his entire gaming career in six N. Nevada casinos, all in keno. I asked him; "Art, what ticket, with the most spots hit solid, have you ever paid on?"

"A fair share of nine spots," he replied," but never a ten spot or higher." He also commented that over that same 38 years, he had never witnessed his own 8-spot on the board. He had observed plenty of seven out of eight of his regular numbers, but never an 8-spot solid. I can definitely buy what Art's selling; because in the 18 years I spent on the inside, I have seen my 5-spot (2, 25, 55, 73, 78) appear only four times. Fortuitously, I was on it once for \$5, and it paid more than four grand, far more than I have ever spent, or will spend, playing keno.

Dear Mark,
Do you ever think that the old mechanical slot machines will ever make a comeback? Stella S.

The chances of those old mechanical beauties ever making a comeback are zip, zilch, and nada, unless, Stella, some marketing guru can convince the general populace that misbegotten nostalgic stuff like a black-and-white-televisions, Studebakers, or eight-track tapes are must-have items.

In the past I have seen some casinos offer a few old Pace or Mills Bell O Matic Standard coin-op machines on display that are playable, but once the Money Honey, the first machine to have electronic circuitry to read the reels, a hopper, and a brightly lit front end hit the casino floor in 1963, the horse, we'll call him Long Gone, left the barn and he ain't comin' home.

One thing that hasn't changed, be it today's random number generated machines, or yesteryear's mechanicals, you still have to keep reaching for your purse as they gobble up your money.

Gambling quote of the week: The Casino Manager got on the loud speaker and announced, "A bomb threat has been received; please vacate the casino. Nobody moved. Five minutes later the Casino Manager announced again, "Please everybody leave the casino. A bomb threat has been received." The blackjack players were the first to go, then the crap shooters and then the baccarat players; finally the roulette players left. But the slot machines kept whirling and flashing. Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas (1976)

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Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.