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Treat all winnings as YOUR hard-earned money

15 September 2000

Dear Mark,
My friend believes I have a problem gambling with money that I win. She says I treat it as "the house's money" and continue to play till I lose. Is she right? Norma B.

Nowhere is it written — in the U.S. Constitution, the Talmud or the Nevada Revised Statutes — that the money you win at any neon carpet joint is still the property of the casino. Treat all winnings, Norma, as YOUR hard-earned money.

Dear Mark,
Why does my husband sneer at my slot play? This from someone who loses a whole lot more at the craps table. Mary P.

Even though many table game players look down on slot players, take heart, Mary, and please share this gambling yarn with your spouse.

There once was a craps shooter whose wife, a slot player, approached her spouse on a craps game informing him that she needed more money to play slots. "What happened to the \$100 I gave you?" he asked? When she replied, "I lost it," he criticized her for playing slots. "Well I've been playing for three hours and I'm having lots of fun," she said. "You've been playing craps for three hours. How much have you lost?"

"I'm down a few thousand," he said, "but I know how to gamble!"

Dear Mark,
Is there a difference between Gambler's Ruin and Gambler's Fallacy? If there is,
which affects the gambler more? Norm S.

They are completely different, Norm. Gambler's Ruin is the chance of losing all of a stated sum of money, given a known statistical advantage or disadvantage on each bet, while attempting to win a stated sum. Gambler's Fallacy is the belief that the law of large numbers also applies to small numbers.

Unless you are a mathematician calculating the chance of Gambler's Ruin with decimal point arithmetic, the latter, Gambler's Fallacy, applies more to the average gambler.

Most players challenge the Gambler's Fallacy, erroneously believing that a sequence of events in a random process — the spin of a roulette wheel — will represent the essential characteristics of long-term play even when the sequence is short. Say black appears nine times in a row; many gamblers will now wager heavily on red because it's way overdue.

But just because you have a deviation in one direction (Black, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B) doesn't mean an aberration in the opposite direction will occur over the short run to restore balance. Deviations are not 'corrected' as time goes on, just diluted.

The solution to the Gambler's Fallacy is to treat each spin as an independent event. The roulette ball has no memory of any past actions.

Dear Mark,
Our senior citizen's group is being offered a great deal on a bus trip to Atlantic City. Not only do we get a buffet but also \$20 in quarters. The problem is that I am a small-time bettor who prefers nickel slot machines. I have been told that none exist in Atlantic City. Any suggestions for us conservative gamblers after our \$20 is gone? Betty K.

Nickel machines are an industry staple here in Nevada, but unfortunately Atlantic City is one tough market for the low roller. It seems only "The Donald" (Trump) feels the low-limit customer is of any value. I suggest you convert your quarters to nickels and play at either Trump Marina, Trump Plaza or the Trump Taj Mahal.

Get there early, Betty, as the seats are always filled by cautious gamblers. The Trump Marina has only 44 nickel machines, the Plaza 274 and the Taj Mahal 141. Expect an average return of 86.8%.

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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.