"Loose" is a relative term, not an absolute

Dear Mark,
How would you define a "loose" slot machine? Carol J.

"Loose" refers to slot machines that are programmed to return to the player a larger percentage of the coins played than do other machines of similar type in the same casino. In casino A, for example, a loose machine might be programmed to return 94%, while in casino B down the street, a loose machine could return as high as 97%. Additionally, Carol, gaming jurisdictions vary considerably. A return of 93% on a dollar machine would be considered loose in Atlantic City, but disgustingly tight in Reno.

Dear Mark,
When a video poker machine is not paying off, do you recommend paying fewer coins, then increasing that amount when better hands start to appear? Gil H.

Your assumption that you will save money by "priming" the machine for the big enchilada, the royal flush, has no merit. Sorry, Gil, but the number of coins played has absolutely no effect on determining when the royal, or any other hand, will surface.

Dear Mark,
Have you ever heard of any video poker systems that are based on tracking previously played hands? Randy G.

Take out your notebook, Randy. You will want to remember this for a future quiz I have planned for this column. No system will allow you to predict any future hand to be dealt by an honestly programmed, microprocessor-controlled video poker machine. The mathematics behind video poker are simply impregnable. You will lose a certain percentage of all monies inserted, because the machine is programmed to return only a certain percentage to you, the player.

School's out.

Dear Mark,
What are the differences between Chemin de Fer and baccarat? Bill W.

In Chemin de Fer, if a player has a two-card total of five, he decides whether to ask for a third card. The draw is optional. In Las Vegas, the player must draw a card based on predetermined rules. Also, in Chemin de Fer, the gambler is limited to the amount the bank is willing to lose. In America's Green Felt Babylons, you can take your best shot and play against the casino's entire bankroll.

Dear Mark,
I have heard that the casinos use certain tricks to make even more money on weekends when the casino is packed. Since you worked so long in the industry, come clean and tell us some of the insider trade secrets used on the weekends to get at our wallets? Dave D.

A feisty question, Dave, but sorry, there is not a button upstairs to make the slots pay off only on weekdays. The casino does not take a screwdriver to the slot machines on weekends to tighten them up.

Casinos do not pump oxygen through the air conditioning system. Bartenders are not instructed to spike your booze on Saturday night so you will blow all your money. You'll fork it over regardless.

There is no pedal for the dealer on the roulette table to make certain numbers appear. There is no card-shark dealer school that teaches blackjack dealers to deal seconds, or from the bottom of the deck.

Cocktail waitresses are not encouraged to sleep with high rollers so they will dump all their money in high-limit pits. And I'm just warming up. Want more?

Gambling thought of the week: "The only difference between a winner and a loser is character." - Nick the Greek