A Grand time at the slots

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If it were not for advantage play slot machines and video poker, I would not be who I am today.

I remember back to the early ‘90s and I think I was working on my 10th job in life. After work on Thursdays, I used to go to a pool hall in Elizabeth, N.J. They had a weekly tournament which showcased the best pool players in the tri-state area. When the tournament was over a few poker tables always broke out. Some of the easiest poker games in life were right there at West End Billiards.

One of the guys in the game told me there was some kind of an advantage going on in Atlantic City on a bank of slot machines. He told me the name of the casino but did not know too much more. I drove down to AC to see what it was all about. Little did I know my life was about to change forever.

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That night I played the first advantage play of my life. It was on video blackjack; and the rules were in the players’ favor for an earn of about $30 an hour. That night I sat next to a guy who worked for another casino in town spotting card counters. He took a liking to me and we became very close friends. He explained to me about the different advantage gambling opportunities, one being video poker.

That same guy called me just two weeks ago, to tell me that the Downtown Grand, here in Las Vegas, had full pay deuces at the two-dollar level. They also had a couple multi-line games, which I knew would be hard to get on because the return to the player is 100.76 percent and after cashback and comps was worth about $500 an hour. Even the single line play at $10 a pop was worth about $100 an hour in revenue to me.

The next morning I received a text on my phone from a well-known advantage player that I know, telling me that he was thinking of flying in for this same game. So I headed downtown to check it out.

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I actually could not believe what I was looking at. The place was full of the ”Who’s Who” of advantage gambling. There was no need to even worry about getting a seat because practically every video poker game in the place had the option for the full pay deuces on the game.

I admittedly do not play this game to the 100.76 percent payback. However, I do play other deuces wild games, and have the strategy down pretty good. One of my guys that called me knows the strategy perfectly, so I called him for a refresher course. I felt very confident that I was playing with a very good edge so I decided to give it a go.

In my first session, I hit four deuces a few times and ended up plus a few bucks. My brother was in town, so I brought him over for a comped dinner at Triple George Grill, which the Downtown Grand owns and is very good, plus I love the old school vibe. After dinner we headed to the machines.

My brother knows a little about video poker so I put us both in action and kept a close eye on him and we ran really well. Hitting deuces four times, plus I hit a royal. I hit a second royal the third day, like I have never hit before. I threw the entire hand away and on the redraw a royal came up. The odds for that are about 650,000-1.

I was up a very good amount and then hit a cold patch for the next two days and gave back half of my profit. Some takeaways that I have are that I absolutely did not enjoy myself like you may think playing these kind of sessions.

I probably played 40 hours of video poker in six days. Every night I would come home punchy, smelling like smoke and felt like I had been working a physical job of hard labor. I was putting in the sessions because I knew this was going to end, and honestly did not even think it would last as long as it had.

It actually becomes a sickness, and my thought process became, ”Well all these sharp guys are here, some flying in from all over the country, I have to take advantage of it for as long as I can.” Popular advantage player Las Vegas Cris mentioned this on Twitter and that also brought a lot of people in as well.

Overall, I knew about 10 people who played the promotion, and amazingly not one of them lost. That is very hard to do even with this kind of payback. What I still do not understand is why those machines were there, and even more, why they lasted as long as a week. Some people thought they were trying to sell the place and pump up the coin in volume since they actually advertised “full pay deuces” right on the scrolling ads on machines.

Whatever the reason, they slowly began disappearing as slot technicians were told to lower the denominations a few different times.

Good video poker nowadays is all about the promotions and mail (Progressives are nothing like they used to be.) If it is published, then it is probably not good anymore. There is no simple formula regarding promotions, you really have to have a good feel or sense for it, and that is something that no book can teach.

That said, thank God for preseason NFL football. 

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