I love buffets, but

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My brother likes to play single deck blackjack games, while I enjoy a casino that offers a decent buffet and a cocktail waitress that comes to the keno lounge more than once an hour. So, we cannot always gamble in the same casino. I probably already know what you will say, but what in your opinion of what makes the “best” casino? I am appealing to your love of the buffet. Jack M.

Granted, Jack, I have my favorite buffet stops across the American casino landscape, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a superior feeding-frenzy-forum equals the “best” casino.

It is no secret that casinos have a mathematical edge over players on all their games. This fact alone makes it tough for players to win. The higher the casino’s edge, the lower the chances the player will end up a winner. With the casino enjoying this mathematical advantage over the player, they key to the “best” is to know where to play, which games offer the best chance at winning, and how to beat them.

You should judge a casino the “best” if its gaming rules maximize a player’s chance of winning. Consider this Starving Player’s Checklist: single versus double zeros on a roulette table; blackjack dealt from a single deck with liberal rules like doubling on anything, re-splitting and surrender; a crap game with five or ten times odds in lieu of two-times odds; 9/6 video poker machines; a mini-baccarat table with low limits; casinos that advertise 98.5% paybacks on their slot machines, and then tell you which machines those are when you ask.

Besides, Jack, my New Year’s resolution (authored by my wife) was to avoid the buffet chow lines, but not a decent-paying video poker machine.

With all the different types of video poker machines to select from, should the player learn all the different machines or be more selective? Gerry B.

There are more than a hundred different versions of video poker machines to choose from: games like Joker Poker, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Louisiana Jacks, Gator Poker, Deuces Wild, etc. All casinos offer you a supermarket selection, but all have different paytables needing distinct playing strategies. This writer does recommend becoming a seasoned player, but don’t try to be a crackerjack at all the versions. Learn in depth perhaps two types of machines, for example, Deuces Wild and Jacks-or-Better, and then limit your play to using them to trounce the house.

Could you please settle an argument for me? I cross the bridge weekly and play at Casino Windsor. Casino Windsor advertises that your casino winnings are not taxable. My brother feels I still have some form of tax liability as an American citizen. Who’s right? Theresa C.

Casino Windsor may advertise that taxes on your casino winnings will be paid by the Easter Bunny, but unfortunately, that soothing claim will not reduce your tax woes. According to the IRS, all casino winnings, from all forms of gambling worldwide, are taxable and must be declared on your tax return. Plus, American players who play at Casino Windsor and win more than $10,000 are required to report it at the border.

How you fill out your tax returns is your own ethical dilemma. Just note, Theresa, that legally you do have some tax liability.

Gambling thought of the week: “Look high, look low, and we see that gamblers actually form the majority of the world’s inhabitants.” -James Runciman, Side Lights (1893)

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