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People who learn the right strategy, for whatever reason, make some mistakes while playing. There are a variety of reasons why these mistakes are made. The player might be tired or he might have been drinking or he might just be human.

Nobody plays 100% perfect or can even follow their own desired strategy perfectly. Humans make errors. This is a simple fact of life.

Over the years, some people have tried to use this simple fact to disprove the validity of Expert Strategy. But this is really an absurd argument. Since no strategy can be better than perfect, you’ll essentially be subtracting the same amount. It doesn’t take a degree in math to realize the issue will not be the errors by the base payback you’re starting with. Thus, even if you know you will make errors you should still maximize your payback.

There are two things you need to understand about this type of error. The first is, generally speaking, they don’t impact your payback all that much. If I make one mistake an hour, it is likely to cost me less than 0.01% of payback. I mean, I’m not likely going to throw away a Three of a Kind for a 3-Card Straight Flush!

Most errors that are the result of some form of lack of concentration are going to be the type of missing a Low Pair and instead playing a 4-Card Straight or a 3-Card Straight Flush. Missing a High Pair will be slightly more costly but, if you’re doing this infrequently, it simply isn’t going to add up to that much.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should simply not care if you make these types of errors. You should do everything to minimize them – both in frequency and impact. We stop them both in pretty much the same fashion. Playing video poker requires a fair amount of concentration. I never drink (alcohol) when I play. Drinking and gambling don’t really mix well. I mean, why do you think the casinos give out free alcohol?

Just a drink or two will loosen you up so you’ll focus less and probably care less if you make some mistakes. If you want to drink while playing, find a game that requires almost no concentration – like Three Card Poker. If you want to get drunk, head over to the sportsbook, watch a game and have a few – and then make sure you don’t drive!

Next up, don’t play when you’re tired. Obviously, this might mean don’t play until 3 a.m., but it is okay to get up, stretch your legs and clear your head. Casinos today aren’t like they were 20 or 30 years ago. There are lots of other things you can do while in one – bowling, movie, arcade – or just walk around and get some fresh air. Your idea of a fun vacation might be to play 18 hours a day. But, you might find playing for 17 and taking a break for that hour is financially rewarding.

Play slower. If you’re sitting at a table, you can’t control this one. But if you’re playing video poker, feel free to play only 500 hands per hour instead of 600 and double check your work. It is what we always tell our son. There are no bonus points for finishing a test early. The only thing that matters is the number of questions you get right or wrong.

Be very certain of the strategy. With this, the mistakes you make are likely to be more minor than if you’re a bit tentative. Your mistakes should be infrequent and only via carelessness. It should not be because you’re not sure what you should do.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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