Hanky panky?

Why is it that when a slot mechanic opens a slot machine the machine stops paying? Is there any hanky panky going on? Timothy C.

No need to worry, Timothy. A slot machine is usually opened to fill the hopper with more coins or to check for an internal malfunction. The random number generator continues to work even when the slot attendant opens the door. This should not affect the casino keeping “up to” 20¢ of every dollar you put in.
If you still feel uncomfortable playing a previously opened machine, you can always move your hind end to another stool.

In video poker, I get this hand often: a high pair in which one of the high cards is matched with two other suited high cards. Should I keep the high pair or keep the three cards to a royal and go for the royal flush? Sandy D.

Computer studies by mathematicians have created superb basic strategy charts that are used by most video poker pros. But, Sandy, the hand you described in your question is the one hand in which I ignore the “correct” betting approach and deviate from routine basic strategy.
I am fully aware that most video poker experts tell you to keep the high pair, but there is little wrong with going for the royal flush. The additional strength (expected value) of a high pair hand versus three cards to a royal is so negligible, jumping at the chance of hitting that elusive royal flush will do insignificant damage to your bankroll, and could vastly improve it.

If I learn how to count cards in blackjack, how much of an advantage will I have against the house? Bud J.

A typical card counter will have an edge of 1.5% or less, depending on the counting system used, the skill of the player, and the particular house rules that the player is up against. Any higher is unusual because playing conditions that would allow the player to get more than a 2% edge against the house are almost nonexistent, even with a single deck game.

I noticed a blackjack game in which all the cards are dealt face-up. Is this game better than standard blackjack? John J.

John, stick with the regular game of blackjack. Face-up blackjack is not worth wasting your hard-earned money on. You lose pushes, you receive only even money on blackjacks, and the house edge is 2% higher than in the traditional game.

Why is it that when I bet $5, I get plenty of blackjacks, but when betting more, I never get them? Steve S.

Though there is some disbelief on my part that you only get blackjacks when betting $5, if this were truly the case, I highly recommend you keep betting $5.

Gambling thought of the week: “I have always wondered if the results of the Versailles Conferences would have been different if Woodrow Wilson had been a poker player.” -Clyde Brion Davis Quoted in A. D. Livingston, Poker Strategy and Winning Play