My system of don'ts

Dear Mark,
Does it really make sense waiting for that slight aberration (winning) in blackjack since it seldom happens? It all balances out in the end; the casino beats me out of all my money, and I go home with lasting memories of what could have been. Paul S.

Yes, Paul, casinos can and do wait for things to balance out, but you can't. Besides, a single player winning any amount of money against the house is insignificant to the casino's big picture. While you are playing and winning at blackjack, hundreds of other patrons are in the casino playing blackjack and losing. We should also not forget the myriad of losing gamblers trying to seek their fortune at slots, video poker, craps and roulette.

You need to recognize a winning trend when it occurs and seize on the opportunity that it presents. But the other face of the coin is this: when you identify an adverse run, get up and walk. Then you will not suffer a greater loss than you should when those cards turn. And turn they will.

Nick the Greek is credited with saying; " The next best thing with playing and winning is playing and losing." I say; "When you grace the casino's Naugahyde with your tail end, why settle for the second best." In the event that you get a chance (winning trend) at beating the casino, load, aim and fire.

Dear Mark,
What are you thoughts on systems? James L.

My first response would be, NO, I do not believe in systems. But that is not quite true when it comes to my own modus operandi. I believe in the system of "don'ts."

And finally, don't mismanage your money. A far greater percentage of casino profits are derived from players' who lack money management skills than from the mathematical edge the casino holds over the player.

Dear Mark,
Do you think it is bad luck that I get so many 12-16 blackjack hands? I believe I get far more than my fair share. Stephan R.

It is not a lack of fortune that is your problem, Stephen, but myopia. You are supposed to get two rotten hands out of every five that are dealt. You initial blackjack hand consists of two cards. Over the long haul, these first two cards will add up to a total of 12-16 nearly 39% of the time, with 35% of your two-card hands adding up to 17-21. The remaining 26% of your two-card hands will add up to 11 or less. With 39% of those vexing hands needing canny intervention (smart play), how you play them separates the winners from the losers. Not an unlucky run of terrible hands.

Gambling thought of the week: "Son, we are sorry about the tuition funds...your mother and I did not know you are not supposed to split tens..." - Letters home from people visiting Reno.