Pinheads and the pit boss

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Recently, I went to a casino and played some $5 blackjack. I sat at third base at a full table and played basic strategy to the letter. A couple of the other players started giving me loads of heat, constantly complaining and abusing me about my “poor” play. Two options came to mind. One, tell them to take a hike if they didn’t like my play, and two, ask the pit boss to come over and have a little chat with these players. How should I have handled it? Joe H.

Hey, Joe, it’s your money, not theirs, so you should be able to play your hand any way you want. I learned long ago that when it comes to gambling, or anything else for that matter, you will never open a mind that is firmly closed to protect its own ignorance. So, for that reason I recommend the latter versus a verbal debate with the empty-headed. Just call over the pit boss, explain briefly your situation, and most likely he’ll ask the clinkers to refrain from commenting on you play. And if it continues, he will show them the door. That’s how it was when I refereed near-brawls over how a person plays their cards.

One of the biggest fallacies in all gambling is that your play affects the overall outcome of all hands dealt. Not true! Each card comes out of the deck randomly and since no one-not you, the dealer, fellow players, and especially not the jerks who insulted you- have any idea what the next card will be, your play will have no repercussion on the game generally. Pinhead play allows the casino a 4-5% edge over the nincompoop players, like the loud-mouths you had on your game. Because blackjack is a unique casino game that allows players to make playing decisions, smart play will affect the health of your bankroll over the long haul.
Stick with perfect basic strategy, Joe. You are reducing the casino’s edge to well under 1%, making blackjack a terrific wagering base providing some of the best player bets in the casino.

The Discovery channel had a special on gambling, and I noted one casino executive who stated his industry provides an “adult Disneyland” for patrons. After spending 18 years in the business, what is your take on that statement? Harry G.

Bunk, but allow me to let another casino soothsayer describe the industry as he sees it. “It’s our duty to extract as much money from the customer as we can,” intoned Bob Stupak, former Las Vegas casino operator, explaining the realities of casino gambling in US News and World Report. Bravo! At least this owner came clean on the realities of casino gambling. Stupak, and most casino proprietors, know that more than 95% of the public who frequent the Green Felt Jungle will not cope successfully with an industry whose sole professional purpose is to send them home empty-handed. I hope my syndicated column can give venturesome readers essential information so they can enjoy gaming and not be wrung dry by the industry.

Gambling thought of the week: “A number of moralists condemn lotteries and refuse to see anything noble in the passion of the ordinary gambler. They judge gambling as some atheists judge religion, by its excesses.” -Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia (1832)

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