Saying Farewell to the Good Old Days of Las Vegas

Question: I've been practicing my Deuces Wild video poker strategy at an online casino to make sure I get as close to perfect as possible before hitting Las Vegas. With Deuces Wild, perfect strategy says that if you are dealt two deuces initially, you should hold only those two cards and nothing else, right? But the game I have been playing automatically selects both the deuces and the next highest card to hold. If I'm not careful and remember to unhold the third card, I will accidentally keep it. Is that actually a better strategy, is there a bug in the software, or is the casino trying to take me for a ride?

Answer: Who knows? Given that we're talking about an online casino it could be because the programmers don't understand video poker, the software could have a bug, or the casino might be hoping to squeeze extra money out of ignorant players.

In Deuces Wild, the four deuces have almost unlimited power. They can be any card in the deck, and that means that having more possible combinations gives you a better chance to hit a huge hand. With a few exceptions, you can't make your hand worse by discarding the remaining three cards, all you can do is improve it. And the three new cards you get could include more deuces, giving you an even better chance to cash in on a jackpot.

Here are the only Deuces Wild hands where you should not discard the remaining three cards: Wild Royal Flush, Five of a Kind, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Four-to-a-Royal Flush, and consecutive suited cards higher than 7.

Question: You've often pointed out how oppressively expensive Las Vegas has become what with the $9 beers, $4.50 Coca-Cola, $12 sandwiches, and $24.99 buffets. And that's just the food, tack on $20 for a one-mile cab ride, $30 a night in 'resort fees', and the scourge of the modern casino, 6-5 blackjack and going to Vegas is now more like going to Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, it seems like Generation X and the Millennial generation simply accept that this is how Vegas is. I just wanted to say how us old-timers appreciate you reminding everyone that Vegas used to be much more for regular folks, not just for the upper crust of society.

Answer: Although it is quite cliched to talk about the 'good ole days', it is hard to look at modern Vegas and think that the current system of $9 beers is somehow better than it used to be. While not all the old-school casinos were the best places in the world, at least regular people could afford to play, stay, and eat in them.

What's absolutely right is that, for the most part, the younger generation has no clue that Las Vegas used to be something completely different. Only those kids raised by old fogies like us can understand what it was like to eat $1.99 steak and eggs or have the pit bosses call all the regular players by their first names.

The worst part is that since Generation X and the Millennials don't realize how corporate America is destroying Vegas, they will just sit quietly by and watch as 6-5 blackjack takes over and every one of the old Vegas ideals is bled away, one at a time. The 'good ole days' are probably gone for good.

About The Author

Insider casino expert Mark Pilarski worked nearly every job in his 18 years in the casino industry, from dealer to cashier to shift manager. Armed with that experience, he created the legendary Hooked on Winning casino advice audio series and he currently lectures and writes gambling columns for various websites, newspapers, and magazines.

  • "Each card in blackjack is worth its number value, two through ten. Jacks, queens, and kings are worth ten. Aces are worth one or eleven, so an ace and a three is four or fourteen."

  • "Casinos are smart, they know that luck alone will get you nothing in the long run. That's why they trust the math of casino games while losing players rely more on luck."

  • "In addition to classic casino games, modern casinos have adapted an old side-show classic, the 'wheel of fortune', to the casino. Some casinos also call this sucker game the 'big six wheel'."

  • "Casinos never make rule changes that benefit the player; if you see a new rule, it's bad for you. For example, some casinos are starting to pay 6:5 for blackjacks instead of the better 3:2."

  • "The big six wheel is a pure sucker game, with the house edge ranging from a whopping 11% for the best $1 bet to an astounding 24% on the special bets."

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