Was June J. gypped?

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This happened to me just this past week, and I was wondering if the casino cheated me out of money that should have been legally mine. I lined up three bars and was supposed to get a $10 return. Instead of getting a small $10 jackpot, the machine started dumping coins (dollars) into the tray until it was almost full. Immediately, the change person who happened to be standing behind me informed her boss on a walkie talkie, who within seconds came running up and to tell me the money in the tray was not mine. I figure it is hard enough hitting these machines in the first place, so whatever falls in the tray should be mine. Naturally, all I ended up with was the $10. I didn’t make much of a fuss in the casino, but I still want to know whether I was cheated out of money that was rightfully mine? June J.

You have described, June, the “runaway” hopper. The hopper is where the coins are stored in the machine until paid out on your wins. If the hopper continues raining coins into the tray long after it should have stopped, in your case $10, it is called a runaway.

Now the $25,000 question. Is all the money that drops in your tray legally yours? Sorry, June, I wish I could tell you what you want to hear, but I cannot. The excess money dropped into the tray because of a machine malfunction and still belonged to the casino. Granted, over the years I’ve seen many a winner-by-malfunction praise the Gaming God for a balancing bonanza for money lost, scoop out the tray and run like hell. But the slot attendant on the scene did the correct thing in giving you only your correct payoff. She should have put the rest of the coins back into the hopper. Did you happen to notice?

In Deuces Wild in video poker, if I am dealt two pairs with no deuces, do I keep both pair and draw one card to go for the full house? Janet B.

No, you should instead toss one of your pairs overboard as two pairs in Deuces Wild is a dud hand. As bizarre as this sounds to the average player, discarding a pair is the correct strategy. Why? Because in Deuces Wild, you do not receive a payback unless your hand is at least three-of-a-kind. By discarding one of the pairs in a two-pair hand, you will greatly increase your chances of making that three-of-a-kind.

Incidentally, Janet, it does not matter which pair you throw away.

Could you please explain what the term “marker play” is in a casino? Baffled customer

It is an IOU, Baff, that you’ll wish you hadn’t signed when you get home from your gambling trip.

Marker play is like having a line of credit with the casino. With marker privileges, a player can borrow money up to a pre-specified credit line authorized at the cashier’s cage. Without marker privileges, your pre-specified credit line is only the money you brought with you, which incidentally, should only be money you can afford to lose.

Gambling thought of the week: “My last piece of advice to the degenerate slot player who thinks he can beat the one-armed bandit consists of four little words: “It can’t be done.” -John Scarne

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