Good odds or acts of stupidity

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I have seen patrons at a local casino here in Puerto Rico walk up to a bank of 25¢ slot machines and bet the max coins for that machine. If they won-great! If not, they moved to the next machine and did the same thing. Is this a sensible approach (playing the odds), or a random act of stupidity since the machine they left might be “due” to hit? Vincent R.

The “due” factor-like when is the baby due?-does not exist when it comes to playing slots. If anything, walking away from a machine is more than sagacious, because you stop putting your money at risk against a gambling gadget that returns less to you than you give it. Bottom line, Vincent: every spin is totally independent of what went before and what happens next. Similar to picking a penny out of a fifty-gallon drum of pennies-say, 720,000 pennies, then putting your penny back in, shaking the drum well (I’m assuming some real muscles, here), then selecting again. The chance you’ll get the same penny again is one in 720,000, the same chance that any particular penny has of being selected.

Recently at Harrah’s Tahoe, I let my two little girls mark a keno 8-spot sheet. Several days later, it dawned on me that the casino probably could have voided the tickets if I (they) had won. Has this ever happened? Would they do this? Andy L.

I doubt you would ever be put in that predicament as no keno runner cruising the coffee shop would ever except a ticket and a dollar from a juvenile, nor would your toddler be allowed to march up to a keno counter with currency in hand and be allowed to play keno. And, I’ve never heard of casino security putting the kibosh on a child playing FREE-NO-marking tickets for fun-while waiting for their 99¢ green eggs and ham.

But that does not mean that children do not mark keno tickets that become winners. Actually, it is more common than you think. A kid and a black crayola, a parent with a dream. Here Susie, mark some spots on this sheet of paper for me.

I remember one such case where a five-year-old marked an 8-spot in a casino coffee shop that came up solid for $25,000. I quietly overheard the parent promise the tot with the golden crayon a trip to 7-11 for a Slurpee and maybe, just maybe if she were very good, a later safari to Toy’s-R-Us. I predict karmic retribution when she is 16.

Is there such a thing as a lucky player? Frank R.

One lead pipe gambling certainty is that the casinos do not depend on luck to generate their income, and neither should you. What Deal Me In is all about is telling your hard-earned money where to go instead of finding out later where it got lost. I cannot resist putting in my skeptic’s 2¢ worth when it comes to the touching belief in luck in a casino. NO, there is no such thing as a lucky player, but there are some smart ones. Regular readers of this column know what I mean when I state: the smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be.

Gambling thought of the week: “A dollar won is twice as sweet as a dollar earned.” -Paul Newman, The Color of Money

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