John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I’ve always played blackjack games where the player cards are dealt face up. You can’t touch the cards.

I had to make an adjustment when I was playing a two-deck game for the first time. The dealer didn’t want me to pick up my cards until after all the cards were dealt. He wanted me to pick them up and hold them with one hand, and he got all serious when I used two.

When my wife stopped by to watch a couple of hands, I tried to show her my cards, and they didn’t like that either. I waited till all the cards were dealt, like he said, and picked them up with one hand, like he said, then reached back a little to show my wife.

That not only got the dealer excited, but brought over a pit boss. She asked, “Are you having trouble with this one?” The dealer said, “Newbie. He just needs a few things explained,” and she said, “OK, let me explain. You can’t take the cards of the table. Anything else you don’t understand?”

What gives?

A. The dealer and pit boss were trying to prevent you from taking the cards from out of view of surveillance cameras and to prevent any possibility of you switching cards.

It’s easier for a sleight-of-hand artist to pull a switch when holding with two hands than with one. Taking the cards away from the table also leaves the chance of a partner aiding a switch.

In “pitch” games — those in which player cards are dealt face down and players may touch the cards — you must use only one hand to pick up the cards and you must hold the cards over the table plane. You may not move them back toward you beyond the table edge.

Q. I was playing Jacks or Better video poker at a tribal casino. They have the bingo slots. Even on video poker, they have that little bingo display, and you can see numbers coming up if you watch that instead of the cards.

I held a pair of 7s and threw away a King. The draw brought no winner, but then a wizard or genie or something did some magic and the hand was changed to a high pair.

I guess I was supposed to hold the King, right?

A. I’d have done the same as you and held the pair, but it really makes no difference on the game you were playing.

On the Class II bingo-style games you find in a few tribal casinos, the end results are determined by your bingo draw. Your strategy doesn’t affect the outcome. Some players come to recognize the pattern and know what the result will be before they hit the draw button.

I’m not one of them. It has been a number of years since I’ve played Class II games. The tribal casinos closest to my home have Class III slots and video poker — the same RNG-driven games you’d find in Atlantic City, Las Vegas or commercial casinos in most other jurisdictions.

Should you find yourself in a casino that has Class II games, understand that each machine does not have its own RNG. Bingo numbers are drawn by a central processor, with results relayed to individual machines.

That doesn’t mean the games have to be higher or lower paying than Class III games, just that results are determined differently. And for video poker players, it means you can’t alter the house edge via smart strategy.

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