John Grochowski

John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. I have a blackjack story for you. Full seven-player table, three players got blackjacks, one other had Ace-7 and the dealer had an Ace up. One of the three players who didn’t have an Ace was an older man, who said, “Look at all the Aces! One, two, three, four, five Aces!”

Dealer didn’t miss a beat. She’d been back and forth with him anyway, just fun chatter, and said, “You counting cards on me George?” Everybody laughed. We were having a good time. It helped the dealer had 6 down, too, and didn’t push our blackjacks. The whole table won.

A. I had a similar experience once on a hand where everybody had low cards. Several players had hands of four or more cards — I think one player strung out a seven-card 20. The dealer had to go five cards before making a standing hand.

One player expressed amazement and started counting. “All low cards! One, two, three, four ...” The dealer at my table didn’t banter with the player. He called out to the pit, “We have a card counter here!”

It was all in fun. No one really thought that was an advantage play, but the whole table enjoyed the exchange.

Q. When you’ve been paid on hands that didn’t really win, what happened next?

I ask because I had an 18 and the dealer had a 19, and the dealer mistakenly paid my $10 bet. Eight or 10 hands later, the pit supervisor came over and said he was sorry, but I had to give them $20 back, that I shouldn’t have been paid $10 and should have lost the $10 bet.

I’ve played for a long time and have been paid by mistake other times, but this is the first time I’ve been asked to give the money back. The whole table saw and were amazed by it all.

One man told the supervisor it was B.S., that the player shouldn’t pay for a dealer’s mistake. I told the supervisor that having the money affected my later bet sizes, and that they should reimburse me for the larger bets I wouldn’t have made. They didn’t buy it.

A. A lot depends on where you were playing and how seriously regulators take mispays.

Many years ago, I received a complaint from an Illinois reader who was paid on a Caribbean Stud hand that surveillance said he’d lost. The player had already left the table and was playing a slot machine half an hour later when a casino representative told him he’d have to pay back the bet. If he didn’t, he was told, he would be arrested.

I phoned the casino’s public relations department and was told state regulations required the casino recover the mispay, and that the money would be taxed as casino revenue regardless of whether they collected.

On the other hand, in Nevada I was once paid on a push by a dealer who knew exactly what he was doing. As part of a weeklong seminar, I was showing a group of novices how to play.

They were betting money advanced by their employer. I was on my own.

So naturally, some of them were winning, and I lost six hands in a row.

On the seventh hand, the dealer and I each had 17. He looked me squarely in the eye and paid me.

I don’t often hear stories of casinos trying to collect after the fact, and it always surprises me when I do. It seems like there’s a PR cost that might outweigh recovering small mispays.

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