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Video Poker Tip

Dear Mark,
On my pre-drawn video poker hand, I received four cards to a royal flush, but also a pair of Jacks. I decided to keep the Jacks. The player next to me said I played the hand wrong. In the future, should I discard a high pair in favor of four cards to a royal? - Shirley G.

Always, repeat ALWAYS, break a high pair (Js, Qs, Ks, or Aces) not only for a four-card royal, but also for any four-card straight flush. As for when to discard a low pair, follow this strategy: Break your low pairs (2s-10s) against any four-card flush or straight flush, or any three-card royal flush. Read that back to me. OK, by George, you've got it.

Dear Mark,
You mentioned to avoid playing slots in airports but didn't say why. An explanation would be appreciated. - Levi R.

I've known a few players, though they'd never admit it, who when they arrived home from their carefree gambling trip, didn't have money in hand (careless) to get their car out of long-term parking. They blew their remaining dough on an airport slot machine. That pell-mell disappearance is because an airport slot machine payback is notoriously low. With low paybacks, airport machines will gobble up your money in a hurry. Players should always distance themselves from poor paying machines, but in an airport, you are a captive audience for a short time, waiting to board a plane and get the hell out of there, and they know you ain't coming back.

Dear Mark,
Could you tell me the year that craps was legalized in Canada? I know it was sometime in the late 90's, but not sure exactly when. - Miguel G.

Like dates, do you, Miguel? In 1999, Bob K. of Wolverine Lake, Michigan tossed the first legal dice at a crap table in Canada in 611 years. Rolling dice was outlawed in England and all her colonies centuries ago when His Royal Majesty discovered one of his trusted guards indulging in the art of throwing bones. A prohibition was promptly written and finally rescinded in 1999. And you might as well know that Eight was the first point and Bob-on-the-spot made it.

Dear Mark,
I enjoy you columns which appear in our local paper. A number of months ago, when the Travel Channel was showing the poker finals, someone wrote to you about the best PC software for practicing Texas Hold'em. You suggested one and named a store in Las Vegas where it can be purchased. Could you please send me the name of the software and store since I have not been able to find my question in your online articles. - Richard R.

The software I recommended, Richard, was Turbo Texas Hold'em by Wilson Software. It retails for $89.95. A steep price, yes I would say, but the opponents you have to read on your computer screen will be more troublesome than the rascals you call friends at your Friday-night kitchen-table encounters. You can purchase Turbo Texas Hold'em from the Gambler's BookShop.

Gambling Quotes

  • "Life is a gamble, like crossing the road. One day chicken, next day feathers."- Unknown

  • "Having an ATM in a casino is like having a lap-dancer at a Hell's Angels Convention. - McAvoy Layne

  • "Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles."- Peter L. Bernstein

  • Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren't many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person's self-delusional ability and actual ability than in poker.- Steve Badget

  • "Betting is the only moral thing you can do. It is an intellectual pursuit, as good as The Times crossword. For millions, it is the only uninfluenced democratic decision they take."- Lord Wyatt

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