Dear Mark: How does a casino promise that a specific jackpot will be hit within a certain time frame? For instance, say a machine starts with a jackpot of $25,000 and it is guaranteed to be won by the time it reaches $100,000. If all spins are random, how is this possible? Jim D.

Guaranteeing that the jackpot will be hit within a specific timeframe or sum total doesn’t mean that the random number generator is being manipulated. That would be illegal in every gaming jurisdiction that I am aware of. All displayed results must be selected by a RNG.

Those “guaranteed to hit” jackpots are determined outside of the reel-spinning game by a separate system that governs the jackpot. This system randomly selects a trigger amount somewhere between minimum and maximum points chosen by the casino. The lucky soul who reaches the running total equal to or greater than the trigger amount wins the jackpot.

When the jackpot is finally hit, the running total resets to its minimum, and the system randomly chooses a new trigger point.

Dear Mark: I would like to take exception to your “busting” numbers in your reply to Skip last week. You said, “Overall, the dealer will bust about 28 percent of the time considering all possible dealer up-cards.” What you failed to mention in your reply are the other built-in advantages the casino has over the blackjack player. Lenard J.

As you see it, Lenard, what would those other “built-in advantages” be?

Excluding the multitudes of players who play poorly, the ONLY, and I mean ONLY built-in advantage any casino has over a blackjack player is that the casino acts last against every hand dealt. If both the player and dealer bust, the casino already has your money in the tray and doesn’t have to pay you, simply because you had to act on your hand first. The sequence of play determines that if you bust, you lose, regardless of whether the dealer busts or not.

Dear Mark: What is the tipping protocol with a casino host? I am a regular visitor to Vegas but do not have a host assigned. My buddy has a host so I called this person for some help on an upcoming visit, and he was great … exceeded my expectations. I called my buddy back, and I asked if I should tip this person. His response, “I have no idea, I never tip but wondered what the proper action should be.” So, Mark, we would appreciate your advice on tipping and if so, how much? John C.

Although I went into detail last year on your question (check “tipping” and “host” with my search feature at, the short of it is that tipping a casino host is voluntary, but not expected. In many casinos, it is not even allowed, yet it still happens, with Yours Truly himself guilty in the past of doling out gratuities to casino hosts.

The casino compensates hosts by a system that relates to the host’s player’s action and the comps given out to the player. The amount that you are gambling, John, determines the comps you are entitled to, so you need never feel obliged to tip for these perks.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “Life is like a game of poker. If you don’t put any in the pot, there won’t be any to take out.” – Comedian Moms Mabley