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Mark Pilarski

Mark  Pilarski
Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the gambling trenches, working for seven different casinos. He now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer, and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.

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Three strikes and you're out!

10 May 2004

By Mark Pilarski
Dear Mark,
Have you ever heard of the "baseball" method when playing slots? Carol C.

The essence of the baseball method is three strikes and you're out. Yank the handle three times, and if you are not getting any coins trickling in the tray, move to another machine. What this method does is prevent you from losing oodles of money to any one specific machine that is in a losing cycle. When you move along after three pulls with no winning results, you never become a prisoner to one machine — which has a huge built-in mathematical edge — and put the casino in position to grind away at your bankroll.

Because the philosophy behind slot machines is to extract (grind) as much money from the customer as the cybernetic one-armed bandit can, I recommend the baseball method because it allows you to take advantage of a machine that is going through a winning cycle, but not become glued to a machine on a losing one.

Since all slot players experience the slot machines logical concept every time they play, insert coins — pull handle — open wallet for more money, you might want to try, Carol, the baseball method to slow the money exiting your purse.

Dear Mark,
On your website, you mention on your biography page that you are a life-long student of Texas Hold'em. Out of curiosity, why Texas Hold'em and not games like Seven-Card Stud or Omaha? Douglas G.

Texas Hold'em is the most popular form of poker in the world. Besides its popularity, there are numerous reasons why players love this game. For instance, it's easy to learn, deceivingly simple (though I'm forever studying the game), faster and more action-packed than most poker games, fewer draw-outs than stud, it determines the World Champion at the World Series of Poker, and on and on.

I figured by your question, Douglas, that you are looking for an academic answer, something like the use of my aptitude in arithmetic or my affection for the complexity of the game, but my fondness for Hold'em is simple and straightforward. As a tight player having conservative starting hand standards, I love the betting structure of Texas Hold'em compared to all other forms of poker. I like the fact that unless I am one of the two players to the left of the dealer position required to post a blind bet, I get to see my first two cards for free.

I also love that 71% of your hand is defined on the flop (the three shared community cards), meaning, you get to see 71% of your overall hand for just a single round of betting. So, Douglas, the ability to view plenty of cards on the cheap with one round of betting, while being ultra selective regarding my starter hands and the hands I play after the flop, this is what I find irresistible about Texas Hold'em.

Gambling quote of the week: "A losing gambler is an albatross to everyone around him. He doesn't get those warm glowing smiles from his family. In a crap game he leaves the dice so damp with defeat that the stick man pushes them clinically to one side as though they were infected." Jack Richardson, Xmas in Las Vegas (1962)

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