Getting real with fellow players
By Frank Scoblete
Gambling can be a wonderful form of entertainment for just about anyone. However, you must ﬁrst understand what exactly you’re getting into when you step through the casino doors. This month, I answer some questions from readers who have their own take on their favorite games and the way they play them.
“Casinos would call me an action player. I play just about every game. I do not like to relax. I want to play and play some more. You seem to be the opposite. Your columns are often cautionary and hinge on saving money and keeping your playing time under control. I have to disagree with you about that.”
Frank responds: “You are right. I am not a wild player and I always have one foot pointed toward the door. When I am at a casino I do put in a lot of play, but if things aren’t going my way I will take a break. I also quit when I am tired.
“Sometimes I think our emotions run away from us at casinos. I do not like the feeling of waking up the next day and asking myself ‘I played how much money?’ That is almost as bad as saying, ‘I lost how much money?’
“So, I take it easy. I’ve been doing this for over three decades and I have spent as many as 130 days of playing a year. I am never in a rush.”
“Frank, are you against slot machines? Most of your columns are about table games. Why not more on slots?”
Frank responds: “I am not against slots. I write a regular column for Strictly Slots each month. I usually think of that as my contribution to the genre. You can’t dismiss slots as about 70 percent of the casino players in America ﬁnd slots to be their favored game.”
“I really don’t see why the basic strategy in blackjack is considered almost sacrosanct. Can’t it be wrong? Why should I split certain cards all the time and not others all the time? Isn’t the third baseman responsible for what happens with the dealer most of the time? Why not take insurance when you have a blackjack or a twenty? I don’t see why so many gambling writers are almost religious about this stuﬀ.”
Frank responds: “Basic strategy is the opposite of religion because it requires no faith. Computers have ﬁgured out precisely how each hand should be played at each type of blackjack game. While there are diﬀerences in the various blackjack games that are in casinos, the basic strategy for those games is well known.
“Basic strategy increases your chances to win money and decreases your chances of losing money. It makes the game a very close contest between player and casino—and that is exactly what you want. There is only one way to play blackjack and that is by using basic strategy.
“And for the third baseman? He or she has no more inﬂuence on the game than any other player. It is merely a blackjack myth that he does.”
“Why do you think it is important to have a gambling bankroll kept in a separate account?
I know you call it a 401G but I go once a month and I don’t see why I should bother with a separate bank account.”
Frank responds: “I do not like the idea of mixing playing money with real money. The money you use to pay your bills and medical costs and the like should not touch the gambling money. You want to have fun at the casino and you never want to feel you short-changed your real life because of your casino life.
“You only have to put regular deposits in the account, as you would with a 401K, and let that account grow. Then when you go to the casino, you just take an amount out with which to play the games. I think doing that makes for greater comfort.”
“You have on occasion mentioned Pai Gow Poker as a great game to play. At the casinos where I play you might ﬁnd one table and it is usually ﬁlled. Why aren’t there more tables if the game is so good?”
Frank responds: “The game is terriﬁc in my opinion but not many players have discovered it. It is relaxed with no pressure from the other players to play your hand this way or that way. Your decisions do count, too.
“I think more people would play it if there were more tables. The house edge is about 2.6 percent but the leisureliness of the game protects players from massive losses. Why not ask your favorite casinos to oﬀer more tables? That can’t hurt.”
What game has the largest percentage of women who play it? I say blackjack. My husband says carnival games. What do you think?”
Frank responds: “Slots. The majority of the slot machine players are women—although a tremendous number of men play the machines as well. But for sheer numbers, you always have to go with slot machines. They are the cash cows of the casinos.”
All the best in and out of the casinos!