Dealers’ handclap to prove innocence

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Why, when dealers leave the blackjack table, do they always clap their hands? Chris A.

Casino mythology holds that there is a touch of larceny in all dealers. We clap (clear) our hands to prove we are not pilfering chips. Even now, years after my dealing gig, I am still haunted by the suspicion of theft. Every time I pick up an item in a store and put it back, I still “clear” my hands to show I am not shoplifting.

The same holds true for those idiotic aprons management makes the dealers wear. Casino operators do not give one iota about us wearing out our pants; no, they just want to make it tougher for us to steal a $25 chip off the game.

The bottom line, Chris, is that I believe 99% of casino employees are honest, hardworking individuals, and I’m sticking to that story.

If I win at nickel slots, should I then move up to quarters, win there, then proceed to dollars? Sally R.

At first glance, a natural progression to a higher limit seems appropriate, but only you know for sure if you should experiment with higher denominations. Most players have a favorite level that they are comfortable with within their gaming budget. Understood, betting more means winning more, but along with that comes greater risks. You can lose five times as much money on quarters, and twenty times as much on dollars, and all in the same amount of time.

Your need for greed, Sally, proportionate to your working capital, will determine if you should be bumping up to a new caste of gamblers.

Don’t you think that most players go to a casino to lose, and not win? Jackie G.

How correct you are, Jackie. The psychology of most players is downright disheartening. When I worked in a casino, they all said the same thing: “I brought $100 to lose, and that’s when I’ll quit.” I rarely heard: “I’ve got $100 dollars here and with it I’m going to win.” With that losing approach you are casino fodder before you ever get started.

By the way, Jackie, my favorite line I heard from those same losing players was “I’ll be back!”

Is there a best time of the day to play blackjack? Grant H.

Absolutely, Grant. Because winning at blackjack depends on using cerebral matter-Poirot’s “little gray cells”- play only when you are fresh and alert, not tired or mentally spent.

How often do casino’s switch their dice, and how can you tell they were once used on a game? Gary A.

Generally after an eight-hour shift, dice are taken from a game and retired. On the die you will find a retiring mark that indicates the dice has served its master well, and can be purchased from the casino gift shop, or can be had for free from a philanthropic pit boss. The typical retiring mark is a 1/4″ circle stamped usually into the four-spot side of a dice and deep enough into the plastic to make removal nearly impossible.

Gambling thought of the week: “Judged by the dollars spent, gambling is now more popular in America than baseball, the movies, and Disneyland-combined.” -Timothy L. O’Brien, Bad Bet (1998)

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