This list does not yet contain any items.

Deal Me In


Pilarski has left the building

Dear Dad: I am getting a little jammed up here with work. Any chance you can lend a helping hand? Your son, Nicholas 


Today‪ I must bid you a fond farewell after having the pleasure of writing this column for 20 years. It is enough to wonder whether I am quitting too soon or if I stayed at the fair too long. For some of you, I am sure it’s the latter. After all, how many times can I respond to “Do the casinos cheat” or, explain to readers “It’s all random. They pay you less than true odds, and that’s how they make their money.”    

So why leave the best job in the world after 20 years? To help the son who is going to pick out my retirement home. I am undertaking what most parents would love to do but for a multitude of reasons can’t: lend a helping hand in the career of their child.

Presently, my son Nick is throwing front-line 7’s in his film career. His current short documentary film, I Destini, was on the front page of for seven days from August 4-10, while at the same time he was featured in the current issue of Filmmaker Magazine as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film

As a parent, I realize filmmaking is far from a sure bet as a career choice. But Nick’s past successes from the early age of seven when he was involved in adult theater in over a dozen plays, a degree at University of Michigan in theater/film, a Masters at Duke University in film, all the while on that educational journey performing in 600 shows as a Blue Man in the Blue Man Group, along with accompanying multiple Grammy nominated artists on percussion allows me to sleep well.  

I am not sure it is much of a gamble when he has plenty of out options besides filmmaking, like, teaching, acting, drumming, etc. I think it is a decent bet for my wife Renee and me to join him on the Pass Line of life. 

As for my parting the gambling business after almost 40 years, I can wholeheartedly say that “every day was a picnic, every night a party.” I cannot tell you enough how good the gaming business has been to me. Fellow employees, employers, and players – degenerate gamblers too – have enhanced my life immeasurably. 

I am not completely going away. I still have another book on gambling that will be coming out soon, refresh my website ( to include all 1,040 of my columns, and I will remain active in the Twittersphere. Perhaps my gaming tweets can be your source for gambling news/views/tips and some occasional industry sarcasm. You can follow me @markpilarski.

As any writer with two eyes will tell you, to see things from an informed perspective, you need a skilled editor to bring out the weaknesses in your writing that are often overlooked. As the High Lama in the novel, Lost Horizon notes, "The eye sees but doesn't see itself."

The two individuals who have edited this column over its 20-year run are Jack Norris and his daughter Rebecca. Their names never appeared in this column, but their eye on grammar and vital input has made my ramblings look far better than they truly were. The Norrises have saved my bacon, on many occasions, from the Grammar Hall of Shame. 

As this is probably getting too long and becoming rather humdrum reading, I will stop here, only adding that I have no words to express how much I will miss writing this syndicated column. I bid you all adieu by thanking this newspaper and its readers for their comments and compliments. You have been far better to me than I truly deserve. 

So, finally, what was the most often asked question I have gotten over all these years in the gambling business? It was when I worked on the casino floor. Nick, drum roll, please… “Where’s the bathroom?” 


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “The smarter you play, the luckier you’ll be.” – Mark Pilarski


Did a crappy thing happen on the crap table?

Dear Mark: I will try to keep this as short as possible. Where I play, the Crap table offers what is called a Fire bet. If you make all the point numbers (4-5-6-8-9-10) in any order before 7 rolls, you are paid 1,000 to 1. I made the 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10, and then low and behold, the 9 rolled, which should have paid me $5,000 since I had $5 on Fire bet. However, the pit boss yelled out “No roll” and the shooter proceeded to roll a 7 three rolls later. My question is, was I screwed by the pit boss out of $5,000? While you are at it, should I be making the bet in the first place? I have been playing the Fire bet for a few years now, and this was the closest I have ever come to hitting all six numbers. John K. 


I will begin, John, with the game, followed by the math, and then that “no roll” call. 

Some casinos offer what’s called a "Fire Bet," that pays if the shooter makes “at least” 4 different points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9,10) before the seven rolls. 

The bet is typically offered at $1 to $5, and the bettor is betting that a hot shooter will make multiple valued points. For the points to count towards the Fire Bet, they must all be different. For example, if a player were to make a point of 4 twice, only one of those rolls would only be credited for a point on the Fire bet, not two. 

For the first three points hit, there are no payoffs. However, increasing odds are paid for the fourth, fifth, and sixth points; 25 to 1 odds are paid for the fourth point, which would be $125 a $5 bet; the fifth point pays at 250 to 1 odds, which is $1250 for a $5 bet; and the sixth point pays 1,000 to 1 odds or $5,000 in your case. It is important to note here that you won something on that $5 wager: $1,250.

As for to your inquiry about the worthiness of this wager, John, consider this. There is a reason why, as you stated: “this is the closest I’ve come to hitting all six numbers.” The Fire Bet is the worst bet you can make on a crap game. It has a huge house edge of 24.7%.

Concerning your question about being screwed, I doubt you were unless, of course, your legitimate win of $1250 for hitting five numbers was not honored.

When the boxman supervising a crap game invalidates a roll, he or she will call “no roll” or “no dice.” Usually, this happens when one or both of the dice fail to cover much distance, they bounce off the game, a player tries to slide them, or the dice do not land flat. More than likely one of those possibilities happened on that fateful roll.

I can tell you first hand, John, that in a fast paced game like craps, a boxman needs to make split-second decisions that won’t always be favorable to you. 

True, John, I wasn’t there boxing the game. So I can only presume that the boxman either thought it wasn’t a legal toss, or, one of the dice after landing was tilted at such an angle that he or she couldn’t clearly distinguish it as that 9 that you were eager for. 


Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “His hands become nervous when he picks up their cards, exactly as if he were holding live birds instead of inanimate pieces of cardboard.” - Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) describing Leo Tolstoy at cards