Whoever invented the gambling chip was a psychological genius

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Why is it that casinos use chips versus real money on most of their games? Dave M.

Because most players do not equate casino chips with real money. It is far too easy, Dave, to be caught up in the game and forget what you are actually betting. Chips possess none of the qualities of real money. A dollar has a more palpable feeling and is more difficult to surrender than parting with a casino chip. Real dollars evoke those hours of employment, mortgages, and dry cleaning bills. But once purchased, chips seem like fun tokens found at the fair, not a medium of exchange. That is why casinos prefer pit employees to “change color” or upgrade your chips. They are not being courteous, just trying to induce larger play.

I highly recommend, Dave, that you treat all chips, won or lost, like Friday’s paycheck-your hard-earned money.

Is there ever a case when you shouldn’t play the full number of coins in video poker? Sara G.

If you look closely at the paytable, you will notice a non-linear progression on the royal flush payline. Your typical royal flush payline looks like this: 250, 500, 750, 1000, and 4000. Note, Sara, that hefty jump with the fifth coin inserted. Not playing that fifth coin will cost you 12% over the long run.

If the dealer is showing a 6, and you have a 10 or 11, should you always double down? How about doubling for less? Tony D.

In blackjack, Tony, it’s the natural blackjacks, splitting pairs and the ability to double down that takes your bankroll from the red to black. That is why I am a big fan of doubling down. Here, the casino is giving you an opportunity where you now know what the dealer’s up-card is, to bet more money. Doubling down becomes the offensive strategy you use when the chances of winning the hand are better than the dealer’s. Betting more when the casino is at a distinct disadvantage will increase your potential return more than if you were to just hit your hand.

As to the second part of your question, “never” is the correct answer. Since you double down only when you are more likely to win the hand than lose, you always want to wager the maximum amount.
Never, Tony, shortchange yourself in these beneficial blackjack situations.

On progressive slot machines, how much does the progressive meter rise for each coin inserted? Charles S.

On reel slot machines, the rate at which the meter progresses upward is based on a pre-set percentage of all the money cycled through the machine. The meter rates will vary from machine to machine, casino to casino. If you are playing an individual progressive, expect an advance rate of 5 to 10% of the money played. Example: A dollar wagered; the jackpot goes up 10¢. Machines that are linked, like a bank (carousel) or networked slots like Megabucks or Quartermania, have a much lower progressive rate. In return, you will play for a much larger jackpot.

Gambling thought of the week: “They gambled in the Garden of Eden, and they will again if there’s another one.” -Richard Albert Canfield

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