John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I play a lot of blackjack, often in the $50 range. On innumerable occasions I have seen players who were hundreds or even thousands of dollars ahead go away empt-handed because they simply could not leave at a timely point, apparently having set no “win” targets or “stop loss” points, or else just plain unable to stop.

Player fatigue is also an important factor in judgment. I thought perhaps you might address the general topic.

A. Making sure you leave the casino with at least part of any big win is an important concept in any casino game, and fatigue absolutely is a factor.

Card counters and other advantage players live by a different set of money management rules than most players. An advantage player who has won a lot isn’t likely to cut short a session when he still has an advantage. Nonetheless, many such players keep sessions short to give casinos less time to recognize their methods.

The overwhelming majority of players don’t have an advantage over the casino. No matter how much you’ve won, the most likely result going forward is to give some back.

For blackjack players who don’t count cards, I give the same recommendation I give slot players, roulette players or those who play any other game. If you have a large win, protect it. Go ahead and take a shot at winning even more, but take at least half of any big win, put it in your wallet or purse and don’t take it out again until you leave the casino.

How much is a big win? That’s a goal you have to set for yourself. Certainly, a $50 bettor who finds himself $1,000 ahead should consider putting part of that away.

As for fatigue, that affects everyone, including advantage players. When I notice myself making strategy mistakes, I know it’s time to go. Fatigued players often make bad bankroll decisions, steaming through extra money when they should be walking away.

Be aware of the fatigue factor. Take breaks, get some rest and don’t play tired.

Q. My local upstate New York casino recently added electronic blackjack and Three Card Poker. Since the video poker and slot machines are VLTs, can I assume that these virtual dealers of blackjack and Three Card Poker are not giving me a random deal? Is the outcome of these games predetermined by New York State lottery as are the VLT results?

A. Electronic table games in New York are different from the slot-like VLTs. On New York VLTs, the displays look like slot and video poker games, but the results aren’t determined by a random number generator. It’s as if you were drawing from a stack of scratch-off lottery cards, and whatever outcome is shown on that card is then translated into slot and video poker images.

New York State in 2015 approved games with elements of skill to be offered in video slot casinos. Those games include electronic blackjack, Three Card Poker "and other video lottery games where an element of skill and player interaction may be incorporated into games of chance," according to the state budget office.

The approval of elements of skill and player interaction tell us that results are variable — skill makes a difference. One New York casino even advertised that its electronic blackjack offered better odds than table blackjack in nearby casinos.

New York gaming law is evolving. Four new casinos in Upstate New York will be opening in the next few years, with all expected to have live table games under regulations that were published earlier this year.