Question: I just wanted to share a story about your column regarding tipping. We were not at a casino, but my mom and I occasionally go to dinner or lunch. She always offers to pay, and I say I'll get it, so she says “I’ll leave the tip.” Probably the third time we went out we stood up to leave, and I looked down to see a quarter. (The meal was probably $45). I said, “Mom what the heck? A quarter?” She said, “Well the waitress didn’t even refill our water.” I thought “”oh my gawd, she’s been doing this forever!” So now, I still pay for meals AND leave the tip. Love my mom, but boy is she a cheapskate! 

Answer: Luckily, because your mom is a bit of a tightwad, it won’t be a roll of quarters that hits you upside your noggin. That is just what happened to me when I broke up a brawl between two elderly ladies fighting over the same machine. It started by one of the two claiming that a jackpot of $1,000 should have been hers as she had just vacated the machine moments earlier.

The lady who chucked the roll of quarters fervently believed she had primed the machine that caused the jackpot, so it belonged to her. The answer to the “just whose jackpot is it anyway” question is the person who is sitting in front of the machine and who pressed the spin button.

None of the aggressor’s money that she inserted matters one iota because all modern slot machines today come equipped with random number generators, with symbol combinations constantly changing every millisecond from the time she inserted her last coin until the other lady hit the spin button, making the lady sitting front and center the rightful owner of the jackpot, not the assailant.

Longtime readers know my stand on tipping. I tend to tip liberally. There is no need to rehash it here, except that someone has to cover for those, as you call them, “cheapskates!”

Interestingly though, my mother was the flip side of that same quarter; she always over tipped. So much so, that when she moved to a small town in Michigan, she was repeatedly chastised by friends and relatives for “over tipping,” often told hard-heartedly, “you make the rest of us all look bad.”

Your mom’s generosity, or lack thereof, does have one bonus, at least for you. Her life as a miser had given her a handsome bank account that – dare I say – may come to you as an inheritance. Mine all went towards TIPS, the acronym for the phrase “To Insure Prompt Service,” – and refills.

Question: I read your articles on a regular basis. Could you give me the titles of two good books on craps? I believe you gave them awhile back in one of your columns. I should have written them down, but didn't. 

Answer: The two books that I would recommend for the dice apprentice are “Beat the Craps Out of the Casino” by Frank Scoblete or Henry Tamburin’s “Craps: Take the Money and Run.” Both explain the various bets, payoffs, correct odds, and playing strategies for the game of craps. Also, YouTube has excellent educational videos on craps. Begin with “Craps Part One – Approaching the Table” by Michael Shackleford.

Mark Pilarski is a nationally syndicated gaming writer. Visit him online at or follow him on Twitter @MarkPilarski.

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