A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. What’s the best time to raise my bet on a penny slot?

I always start out playing one coin per line, so 40 cents on a 40-line slot. What if I have a couple of nice bonuses or even a progressive, and I’m ahead $50 or $60. Would that be a good time to raise to two coins per line?

My sister-in-law has had some pretty big wins, but she bets bigger, sometimes 10 coins per line. I’m not ready to bet $4 on a spin, but maybe 80 cents would bring some bigger wins.

A. This is a matter between you and your bankroll. The right time to bet bigger is when your bankroll is at a point that you are comfortable with a loss.

If you’re going to raise your bet after a $50 or $60 win, I’d suggest setting a loss limit that would guarantee you walking away from the machine with a profit. If ahead $50, perhaps earmark $30 for 80 cents per spin. Then if you lose that much, you’re still ahead $20 and you can decide whether to drop back down to 40 cents, move to another machine or even call it a day.

Understand that the wins that put you ahead are no guarantee of future wins. They don’t say the machine is hot; only that the machine has been hot.

The most likely outcome as you move forward is a normal mix of wins and losses, with an edge to the house. You do not reduce the house edge when doubling your bet, so the average result of bigger bets on a penny slot is faster losses.

It’s up to you whether you want the tradeoff and take a chance on bigger wins while accepting the possibility of faster losses. If you decide to make that tradeoff, be sure to protect your bankroll and set a limit on losses on the bigger bets.

Q. I was playing mini-baccarat and had a $10 bet on player. The player hand had an Ace and a 5 for six points, while the banker had a pair of 8s also six points.

By the rule, both hands stayed on 6 so it was a push. I said, “Wouldn’t this be a lot more fun if player could take another card? I’m feeling good about a win with another card.”

Nobody took it seriously. Everybody just kind of smirked, and the dealer said I should take it up at the next gaming board meeting.

It got me to thinking, though. It would make the game more interesting if players had a hand in the draw decision. Would that really have to go to the gaming board?

A.Each state has its own regulations, but a change in the way a game is played certainly would need board or commission approval.

To introduce optional hits, state boards would have to amend their game rules. And for a casino to use the option, it would have to amend its internal controls and have them approved by the board.

This is all theoretical, of course. There is no movement to permit optional hits in baccarat. The game’s greatest popularity is with big bettors as a fast-moving, low-house edge, no-skill game.

Casinos would be wary of reducing house edges that stand at 1.06 percent on banker and 1.24 percent on player. They’d also be wary of introducing a hit option that would slow down the game. They’re able to offer such low house edges because the game moves fast, with enough hands per hour to drive up total wagers.

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