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HOME > NEWS > Featured Articles > Deal Me In: Shifty, this player isn't

Deal Me In: Shifty, this player isn't

13 June 2014

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: What are your thoughts on pulling your Player’s Card when dealt a natural royal flush? You would show money deposited, but not the money actually won. Because I use a win/loss statement for tax purposes, the natural royal flush wouldn’t show as a win, which in turn, should allow me to avoid paying taxes on it. Kyle S.

Don’t think, Kyle, you can “game” the system just because the coin-in meter has registered your play, and although you haven’t pressed the “hold” buttons yet, your natural royal won’t be recorded anywhere if you cleverly pull your card. I am sorry to disappoint you, Kyle, but there are two problems with your tax avoidance scheme.

The newer machines now have player-tracking systems integrated directly into the slot machine's operating system. So when you strategically snatch your card, its removal does not record like that anymore. Slot manufacturers got wise to that chicanery years ago.

Furthermore, Kyle, with a payout of $1,200 or more on any slot/video poker machine, you will automatically be handed a tax form (W2G), so there is no benefit to you yanking your Player’s card before an outcome. Besides, the use of a Player’s card has no effect on your tax liability. If you win $1,200 or more in a single spin (including the original bet), the casino will report your win to Uncle Sam along with issuing you a W2G, whether you used a Player’s card or not.

Let’s leave for another column the potential consequences of deliberately manipulating or falsifying gambling records.

Dear Mark: Have you ever heard of a casino that allows the use of the joker in blackjack? My friend said that he once played on a game that had a joker included in the deck, and it was favorable for the player when you got one. Dan L.

Although I have never dealt a game where a joker was intentionally added, or seen it used in such a way, I have heard that some casinos, as a bonus to players, have one or more jokers inserted into the deck that can be used as an any-value card. One game that does come to mind is called California Blackjack. It is a player-banked blackjack variation played at a few poker casinos.

The game of blackjack can vary from casino to casino and locale to locale. It is incumbent upon you before you play to check any and all of the rules, which are customarily displayed prominently at the table. Like I said, Dan, I haven’t been to a casino that offers the added joker as a variation to the game of blackjack, but probably some of my readers have crossed paths with this rule. I am sure I will get some mailbag response (hopefully with rule changes) and will convey further details in a future column.

Furthermore, a joker showing up in your hand may be favorable for that particular hand. What I can guarantee you is that the casino is probably tacking on some interesting rule variations elsewhere that will increase the house edge, like, for instance, altering blackjack payoffs. So, Dan, imparting conclusive wisdom on the mathematics of the game without getting a clear explanation of the rules in full, I can’t.

All that said, I have witnessed a joker that made its way onto the layout. But it inadvertently got there because of carelessness on the dealer’s part – yes, include Yours Truly when it came to sloppy dealing – when the joker was not discarded, but instead left in the deck when new cards were introduced on the game.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “If I've got action, anything is possible. If I haven't got action, nothing is possible.” – Sal the Dice Man, Easy Money: Inside the Gambler's Mind (1987)

Mark Pilarski
Mark  Pilarski
Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the gambling trenches, working for seven different casinos. He now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer, and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.

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