You’re playing with free money with freebie match-play coupons |

You’re playing with free money with freebie match-play coupons

Mark Pilarski
Special to the Appeal

Dear Mark:

By showing my driver’s license at our local casino, I get a casino “fun” book. One of the coupons in it is a Match Play coupon for $10. What would you recommend as a bet when using it.

Danny H.

Match Play coupons are often found in casino fun books and can often be had by going up to the casino cage and just asking for one. When a player uses a match play coupon with a real “even money” bet, then the match play will be converted to a like amount in cash if the player wins. For example, if the player has a $10 match play coupon and pairs it with a $10 wager in blackjack, and if the player wins, his $10 will win $10 and his match play will be converted to ten real bucks. Win or lose, the match play coupon is then taken out of play. In the event of a push, as often happens in blackjack, the match play coupon stays in play until the bet is resolved. If the player happens to get a blackjack, the coupon is converted to its face value, in your case $10, and not $15.

The competition to accompany the match play coupon with your hard-earned cash should be limited to wagers that have less that a two percent house edge. My favorite would be one hand of blackjack, but you wouldn’t go wrong with a bank or player hand in baccarat, or a pass line bet or placing the six or eight in craps.

Each of these bets has less than a 1.5 percent casino advantage, which makes the true value of a match play coupon slightly less than half of its face value, since the probability of winning any of them is also less than half.

Dear Mark:

If I am using perfect basic strategy, does it matter how far in the deck the dealer goes before shuffling?

Sandy A.

How far through the deck the dealer goes before shuffling is called deck penetration, which is usually expressed as the percentage of the deck already dealt. So, Sandy, for example, on a double deck game, “75 percent” would be 78 cards already played.

Penetration is extremely important to card counters because it appraises the quality of cards remaining in the deck before the dealer shuffles, but that information is not essential for basic strategy players like you. There is no advantage to the basic strategy player whether the dealer were to allow 50 percent penetration, then shuffle, or plunge on to the 90 percent penetration level.

Dear Mark:

In a poker game that uses wild cards, which is higher, five of a kind or a royal flush?

Danny F.

Unless otherwise stated, Danny, the five-of-a-kind typically beats a royal flush.

Dear Mark,

What is the house edge for both Three-Card and Four-Card poker?

Les L.

With Three-Card Poker, (and using this one simple strategy rule: bet with Queen-6-4 or better, fold with anything less), the house edge is 2.0 percent of the ante, or 3.4 percent of total action.

As for Four-Card Poker, take notes, Les. When you use this simple strategy when putting up your ante – pair of twos or less, fold; pair of threes through nines, bet 1 times ante; pair of 10s or better, bet 3 times ante. The ante and the play bet combined give a house edge of about 3.36 percent of the initial bet.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “To gamble is to risk, that is, to approach the “ruin factor.” When I was poor the ruin factor was not important. Hell, I was ruined anyway.”

– Mario Puzo

Contact Mark Pilarski at P.O Box 1234, Traverse City MI 49685 or